Monday, January 30, 2012

Analyzing Texts

Most of the time, we read texts without paying much attention to the way they are "made." However, looking at a text more closely does not only increase our understanding of it, but also helps us become better writers. In other words, analyzing texts is a very useful activity.

Since we all understand the same text differently, talking about it in more detail can also enrich our reading experience immensely: we can share our own way of understanding a text with others - and then learn how they understand it in turn.

I would therefore invite you all to SHARE your way of reading one of the following texts:

If you don't know what you can look at in a text, here some "tools" that might help you:

I am looking forward to reading your posts,


Monday, January 23, 2012

Happy New Lunar Year!

I hope the Year of the Dragon will be good for all of us!

For our on-line session today, please check your email!


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Finding One's Purpose in Life

Since writing – in particular in its form as literature and as philosophy – often discusses questions that are of importance to every human being (such as “Who am I?” “What is the purpose of my life?”), I think we should devote this week’s discussions to this theme.

I have therefore selected some video clips about different aspects of this topic as well as a few personality tests that might help you find out more about yourself.

Please do ONE – or BOTH – of the following:

1.    Watch at least ONE of the following videos and write a comment to it that discusses first briefly the video’s main points and then describes your personal view of one or more of the questions the clip raises.
2.    Please take one of the personality tests (links below) and
a)    describe how well you think this test characterizes you and then
b)    share in a few sentences what you think your purpose in life – or your dream – is.

Please feel free to post links to other interesting and/or useful sites about this topic!

Here the links I have found inspiring:

Steve Jobs: Commencement Speech - Advice to Students in 3 stories

Randy Pausch: Last Lecture - Achieving Your Childhood Dreams

Nick Vujicic's Speech, Part 1:
Nick Vujicic's Speech, Part 2:
Speech, Part 3:

Stephen Hawking: About Meaning of Life:

Deepak Chopra: Intro to Meditation and Finding Meaning in Life
(click on: "Live Meditation with Deepak Chopra")

Dalai Lama: Path to Happiness (YouTube)

Wayne Dyer: The Shift – movie in 7 parts (on YouTube)
-> please click on the other parts from there

Oprah Winfrey & Eckhart Tolle: Virtual Classroom, part 1:
A New Earth - Awakening to Your Life's Purpose

Personality Tests:

Life's Purpose

Personality Types & Suitable Careers:

Pop-Culture Personality Test:

Finding Your Archetypes:

Comment to Your Comments to Reading and Writing in Today's World

Thank you very much for your comments! Some of them were extremely interesting as well as insightful, and I enjoyed reading them very much.

What I would like to know now is: how should our current education system (in particular university education but also education in general) adapt to these changes? In other words, what do you think would "the ideal university education in today's world" look like?

This is an optional addition that you don't have to answer if you are short of time. However, if you have an opinion, I'd love to hear it.

Thank you!


Friday, January 6, 2012

Reading & Writing in Today's World


The way most of us read and write today is fundamentally different from the way most people read and wrote 15 to 20 years ago....

1) What do you think about these changes &
2) What do you think about writing in general and about the role writing in any form (from text messages, graffiti, and ads to research papers, news reports, novels and movie scripts) plays in today’s world?

I have selected some YouTube clips about writing and related topics that I find interesting. Please have a look at them and, if you wish, integrate them in your discussion.

Feel also free to lead us to other YouTube clips or websites about writing that you find interesting.

Please note: you are welcome to comment about that topic in any genre you wish (from “normal“ blog entries or comments to poems, manga or video clips). You are also welcome, of course, to respond to any comments or post someone else has made. Last but not least, you are also very welcome to comment more than once, if you wish.

I hope you will enjoy sharing your ideas with the rest of us about this topic!


Here the links:

I Write Because…

The Top 10 Reasons to Write

Authors on Writing

More Authors on Writing

The Power of Words

Storytelling & Identity

Advice for Writers from Stephen King

Advice for Writers from Garrison Keillor

Advice for Writers from Kurt Vonnegut

Writing Lessons by Jack Kerouac

Wit & Wisdom from Writers about Writing, I

Wit & Wisdom from Writers about Writing, II (critics)

Jaques Derrida: Fear of Writing

Peter Elbow: On Writing

Garrison Keillor: Writing in Different Forms

Toni Morrison: Motivation for Writing

Salman Rushdie: The Creative Process

Margaret Atwood: The Creative Process

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Dear All,

I thought I'd change the ENGL 112 format a bit this term and include some blogging. I hope that you will enjoy this and that you will share interesting and/or fun ideas with the rest of us. I will give you specific topics to get you started. However, the rule is: you don't have to stick to them if you have something better/ more interesting to say. In short: you can do anything as long as it's good, i.e.: as long as it gets us thinking and/or acting and/or creating....

Happy New Year - and Happy Blogging!