Daily Archives: December 19, 2006

Now what do I know about Malouf and Wordsworth…?


In 2005 I had two students who were reading David Malouf — or Wikipedia are both good places to start looking. One student was studying An Imaginary Life in the context of an “In the Wild” module also featuring Wordsworth. (He got Band 6 in the end.) Nature in is worth a visit. So of course is Wordsworth The other was studying The Great World as part of a Year 11 unit on “Visions of Australia”. Here is a site that fits Malouf into a postcolonial context. Could be useful.

Here is a 1996 interview with Malouf in which he talks about “The Conversations at Curlow Creek, and other matters such as God and paganism and the sacred.”

In January 2001 Malouf spoke with Ramona Koval on ABC Radio National; from his collection of short stories, Dream Stuff, Malouf read from one of the stories, called ‘Closer.’ He then talked about that story and his work. (This is a full transcript.)

This Introduction to The Great World is concise but a reasonable start.

This is one of the best things I have found so far for both books. Film Australia (PDF) has published these “viewing notes” for a documentary on Malouf also called An Imaginary Life.

This New York Times review of the novel An Imaginary Life is worth visiting, as is this one of The Great World. (If the New York Times demand registration, remember it is free – and useful.)

If you want a rather turgid essay in pomo style on An Imaginary Life, look at An Imaginary Life by David Malouf: The Struggle for the Sign, the Struggle for the Self”. Look too at “The Stranger in Three Novels by David Malouf” by Jorg Heinke, University of Kiel, Germany — even if it is oddly organised — or at least I think so.

On Wordsworth there is “Wordsworth’s poetry” by Anne Collins, from HSC Online. You could also do some very profitable time-wasting by doing a virtual tour of Wordsworth’s Cumbria. Then, and I do warn you in advance, look at William “The Interminable” Wordsworth (1770-1850) written by someone else who has found “The Prelude” to be great for insomnia…


Here is a beautiful site to look at: Nature, Beauty, and Power: The Romantics (Pitt State University). Another US university, Washington State, offers a plain no-nonsense introduction to Romanticism.

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Posted by on December 19, 2006 in Australian, English studies, HSC, literature genres, student help, works/authors


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How can I write faster in exams?

Mr Whitfield, do you have any tips on how I could write faster in exams? I push myself to the point where my writing becomes almost illegible yet I still struggle to write any more than 3 pages in a 40 minute essay and that’s excluding the time thinking about what to write.

1. Go to Study Skills Self-Help Information and click on “Seven Strategies for Improving Test Performance”. It may be your problem is here. Look too at “Exam writing tips from one who’s been there!”

2. Go to Writing Essay Exams (Online Writing Lab of Purdue University) for some good advice.

3. Test Anxiety will help you control that panic by taking you to lots of sites with good advice on that.

4. And if that is not enough there is even more on Test Writing Tips.

5. Quantity is not everything; sometimes a very concise three to four page answer can be more successful than a wordy long answer.

6. Occasionally the problem of short answers may have to do with difficulties the student has with the act of writing, or with concentration, and these may be caused by factors that merit special consideration. If you feel this is your case, consult your Year Adviser and your School Counsellor.


  • Practise with real questions from past papers, ones your teacher gives you, or even ones you make up yourself.
  • Frequently practise analysing questions. Ask yourself: “What does this mean?” “What would be relevant in an answer?” “How would I approach it?” Even five minutes spent doing this is valuable. Question analysis should become almost automatic, so you very quickly know what you are doing in any situation.
  • Frequently go one step further: jot down the three or four MAIN POINTS you would wish to make. Write a practice introduction based on those main points. Again, this may take only five or ten minutes, but will make you a much more efficient exam writer.
  • Less frequently (but often), write TIMED whole answers in 40 minutes to an hour. Either share them with your study group, if you are in one, or submit them to your teacher for feedback. Even if you don’t show the resulting essay to anyone else, you may benefit from it by putting it away for a week and then taking it out and looking at it critically. How successful do you think you were?
  • Read other students’ successful essays. What did they do to score that good result? You can find some published NSW HSC ones in the Library or your bookstore, or from the NSW Board of Studies.
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    Posted by on December 19, 2006 in esl for students, HSC, questions asked, student help, study skills, writing



    My tenses are all over the place. How can I fix this?

    See also English Tenses and Subject-Verb Agreement.

    This is a real problem for many students, especially those from language backgrounds where tense is not shown the same way it is in English (and even more so in other European languages, which is one reason that studying Latin, Greek, French or German can help your English by making you more aware of what happens in English.)
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    Posted by on December 19, 2006 in English grammar, esl for students, questions asked, student help, writing


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