About lacimetta

English teacher, mum, blogger, interested in Web 2.0 and its impact on learning, education & literature.


In these days of tragic events, after the several terrorist attacks in Paris, I questioned myself on the real validity of teaching literature instead of focusing on the contemporary events and facts. Well, I’ve reached, once more, the conclusion that in moments of great crisis we can find inspiration and confort in Poetry and in the words of great men from the past, who suffered like us and fought against tyrannies and injustices the way we try to. I firmly believe that studying literature and a poet like P.B.Shelley can help us cope with sorrow and believe in the possibility of rebirth and change.

Therefore I decided to Flip the Flipped Classroom (what a paradox eh!) and present this troubled and fascinating man in class creating an Emaze presentation, with the aim of conveying my passion for his poetry while interacting with the students.

Here’s the presentation Powered by emaze

I then decided to create a video from it, in order to help my students study, revise for the exam and also for the ones who were absent. They really appreciate my commitment. The video is too long, I know, and it’s taken me ages to do it; had to redo it several times due to Dream, my dog, jumping on me barking :) or the telephone ringing and other funny incidents. Next time I’ll split it in two, zoom on the video with the “Ode to the West Wind” and other improvements. “Practice makes it perfect” and I’m still far from it but I love learning every day something new and this urge to improve is what makes my job so unique and fantastic!  

Well, last but not least as I was discussing with my colleague and friend Anna, I somehow object on this “teacher centered approach” but in a context where the other teachers explain using frontal lessons for 2 hours non stop,  I have to use a “soft blended” approach and cannot turn everything upside down. 😉 For sure, had I had more time (due quarte e una quinta ora alla settimana, comprensive di un aid conversazione, non sono molte per fare lingua, letteratura e PBL!) I would have chosen a more Active Challenging Approach doing a WebQuest. Next time. Now my next goal is doing a podcast where my students will be protagonists! Stay tuned.

3M: Why do we study literature?

My dear  students,

I’m going to introduce our course on literature by asking you: Why do we study literature? Which is closely linked to the question What is literature? Why don’t we study the telephone directory? I guess you’ve dealt with literary texts for years now but every time I ask my students the above question I see, from their reactions, that somehow it comes as unexpected and it puzzles them. What is our teacher talking about? Of course we study Shakespeare and not the telephone directory but … WHY?

Well, I’m pasting here and on the walls some definitions of Literature and I would like you to choose ONE that suits you & you like best.

litertureis7 litertureis6 literatureis5 literatureis5 literatureis3 literatureis1

  3. The many great gardens of the world, of literature and poetry, of painting and music, of religion and architecture, all make the point as clear as possible: The soul cannot thrive (prosperare) in a garden. If you don’t want paradise, you are not human; and if you are not human, you don’t have a soul.   Thomas Moore
  4. Literature is the exploitation (sfruttamento) of words (…) Music and literature have a great deal in common: they both use the temporal material of sounds” A. Burgess author of A Clockwork Orange
  5. If a nation’s LITERATURE declines, the nation atrophies and decays.
  6. Great Literature is simply language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree. Ezra Pound 1885-1972, American Poet, Critic
  7.  No two people read the same book. Edmund Wilson 1895-1972
  8. Literature is where I go to explore the highest and lowest places in human society and in the human spirit, where I hope to find not absolute truth but the truth of the tale, of the imagination and of the heart  Salman Rushdie  (Indian born British Writer, b.1947)
  9.  Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become C.S. Lewis  (British Scholar and Novelist. 1898-1963)
  10.  What is wonderful about great literature is that it transforms the man who reads it towards the condition of the man who wrote E. M. Forster  (English Novelist and Essayist, 1879-1970)
  11.  Literature always anticipates life. It does not copy it, but moulds (modella) it to its purpose. Oscar Wilde  (Irish Poet, Novelist, Dramatist and Critic, 1854-1900)
  12.  The difficulty of literature is not to write, but to write what you mean; not to affect (colpire) your reader, but to affect him precisely as you wish. Robert Louis Stevenson
  13.  So you may ask what is the use of studying the world of imagination where anything is possible and anything can be assumed (immaginato), where there are no rights or wrongs and all arguments are equally good. One of the most obvious uses, I think, is the encouragement of tolerance. Northrop Frye, The Educated imagination.

Here’s a video I found you may like, created  by a student like you.

Now look at the following lines of a poem we’ll read in class without telling you who wrote it and when.

“ Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,

And then is heard no more; it is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.”

  1. Who do you think is the writer? A contemporary poet? A poet from the past? A young man/woman or a mature one. Why?
  2. Does it communicate a universal truth to you?
  3. Can you consider it literature?

Like Dante who said “Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita, mi ritrovai per una selva oscura,ché la diritta via era smarrita. (When I had journeyed half of our life’s way,I found myself within a shadowed forest,for I had lost the path that does not stray. Canto I, lines 1-3) couldn’t he just write When I was 35? Am I confusing you? I guess so because even today there’s a huge debate on what literature is. Since it is very difficult to define what literature is, critics speak of LITERARINESS: deviation from conventional daily language.

  • Daily language: life is not worth living. Literary language: Shakespeare’s.
  • Daily language “when I was 35”. Literary :”nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita.”

Meaning is conveyed through Sounds and often has to be inferred.

That’s why you may sometimes  find it difficult to understand and decode it. Nevertheless the SOUND of poetry, like the music of a song, helps you grasp some meaning. Even if you don’t understand French I’m sure you will “feel” the atmosphere and the general tone of the following line.

Les sanglots long des violons de l’automme blessent mon coeur d’un languer monoton”    (P. Verlaine)

The same happens in music. For instance in rap music or ballads.

So, to cut the long story short, in literature



That’s why we’re going to study literature:

  • to master and understand the CODES of literariness;

  • to appreciate literary texts;  :)

  • to be able to give your personal response; (in a creative way!)

  •  to acquire a certain knowledge of the social & historical context of some authors & be able to compare them to the Italian literature.

“So you may ask what is the use of studying the world of imagination where anything is possible and anything can be assumed, where there are no rights or wrongs and all arguments are equally good. One of the most obviuos uses, I think, is the encouragement of tolerance. “Northrop Frye, The Educated imagination.

Last but not least: why do you want to study literature and what are your expectations for our course on Literature in English? Leave your comment.