michaelgriffith (michaelgriffith) wrote,

Teaching has been hectic in the last two weeks with Discussions and Assignments coming in on top of regular teaching. But two batches of Discussions have now been marked: Australian Literature and Twentieth Century Literature. Both Discussions explored the possibilities of role-playing and of converting literary texts into film. Overall the experiment was succesful; it helped a number of students to bring a range of additional talents to their engagement with the text. Turning a text into film and being either a director or a fictional character makes a whole lot of new demands over and above being a simple literary critic. So I was impressed overall with the way in which first and second year students swung into action here taking themselves almost up to the threshold of creating a film.... some budding film directors here in the making I am sure!
The content of the last two weeks has been wild. In Australian Literature we have been dipping our toes into Modern Australian Theatre and are now launched into a debate on Helen Garner's amazing attempt to bring peace to the Cinque family in her "Joe Cinque's Consolation". In Twentieth Century Literature we have sauntered through the world of William Butler Yeats, the Modernist Experiment and most recently one of my favourite poet/dramatists Dylan Thomas- his intense celebration of Life in all its colour, texture, sorrow and joy is just amazing... and in "Under Milk Wood" hilarious: "You must keep your pyjamas in the draw marked pyjamas!" Yes Mrs Ogmore-Prichard!!.... a common refrain in my own household!! And with dear old William Blake with third year we have continued our intensive saunter through the inner and outer landscape of "Visions of the Daughters of Albion"... as one of my students (Kathryn) said -I may not be quoting you exactly: this is an amazing poem because what it is exploring -in a kind of mythological landscape- is precisely what all human beings still go through today.... she was struck by the contemporary relevance and power of Blake... despite its quirky, odd way of representing experience... so it was really good to hear that.... something of Blake must be getting through the time barriers... in less than two weeks the prestigious prize-winning, internationally famous novelist David Malouf will be gracing us with his presence. He has been coming to our university for the last few years... always willing, always happy to be in touch with our university students. I think he likes the fact that our university students are really interested in deep human issues; for them literature is not just some kind of add-on to an arts degree, but is something that really nourishes their inner life.... He has always said to me after his visit how impressed he has been by the kinds of question he gets asked by our university students. So if you haven't started reading "Conversations at Curlow Creek" yet... get to it soon... because you really need to be on the ball with David Malouf's text when he arrives....
This weekend for me -between the long bouts at the computer marking discussions and uploading discussion marks- has been a time of reconnecting with the bush..... as I try to do every weekend. This weekend was really special: with Rose and my friend Graeme and his son Chris we explored the Muogamorra Bush Reserve. This is only open 6 weekends in the year. It is a reserve dedicated to the preservation of native species and it allows the public to come in and enjoy its facilities just for a short space at the start of each spring..... and it even gets a mention in the Wikipedia! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muogamarra_Nature_Reserve. There were some fantastic Waratahs out this weekend... the first of the season... enjoy my glimpses- first of the gnome setting out: (BTW: if you triple click on these images they open out into massive 5megapixel close ups!)

then of one of the spectacular Sydney Boronias that our out everywhere in the bush at the moment:

and then of two spectacular Waratahs that are quite thick around the top ridge of Muogamorra...

Incidentally I was told by one of the park rangers there - who had a collection of booklets written by local history enthusiast Tom Richards (ex Kuring-gai High Headmaster)- that the last tribal Aboriginal woman was buried on Barr Island -just off Muogamorra... in the 1870s.... she apparently was around 90 years old and was born BEFORE 1788... both her parents were apparently tribal aborginals.... There is evidence of Aboriginal culture in Muogamorra... on one point in the track a huge carving of a whale on a flat rock.... quite spectacular.....

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