The Vikings enjoyed teasing their friends with clever riddles and jokes and listening to stories, poems and songs. Their favourites were about famous battles or the adventures of the gods. Kings paid for poets called “scalds”, to entertain royal guests and praise their brave deeds. Sometimes, scalds accompanied the words of their poems by playing music on a harp or lyre.
After AD 1200, priests and scholars in Iceland began to write down all the old Viking stories and poems. Known as “sagas” and “eddas”, these stories still survive today.
The Viking carved runes (spiky-looking letters) on memorial-stones to honour people who had died. They also scratched messages and magic spells in runes on wooden sticks, deer antlers and bones.
Runes were made up of straight and diagonal lines, so that they were easy to carve on hard materials like wood and stone.
Some Viking words still used in English:…
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When Kendrick Lamar released his sophomore album, To Pimp A Butterfly (2015), I was in the middle of teaching a unit on Toni Morrison’s novel, The Bluest Eye (1970). My freshmen students were grappling with some big ideas and some really complex language. Framing the unit as an “Anti-Oppression” study, we took special efforts to define and explore the kinds of institutional and internalized racism that manifest in the lives of Morrison’s African-American characters, particularly the 11-year-old Pecola Breedlove and her mother, Pauline. We posed questions about oppression and the media – and after looking at the Dick & Jane primers that serve as precursors to each chapter, considered the influence of a “master narrative” that always privileges whiteness.
Set in the 1940s, the Breedlove family lives in poverty. Their only escape is the silver screen, a place where they idolize the glamorous stars of the film industry. Given the historical context…
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People dipped discreetly into boxes of chocolate-covered nuts. There were carpets on the walls. An entire seat just for me. And not the usual rubbish designed for children, made of Marmite-proof, Oros-repellent plastic: this one was upholstered in the kind of plush, red velvet you can only dream of when you’re six. Best of all, we’d come to see Chariots Of Fire, a film about two of my favourite things at the time: chariots and fire.
When we opened on a beach in Scotland, with no sign of burning two-wheelers, I was disappointed. But only for a moment. Soon I was bewitched by the iconic theme, clean as endorphins pulsing through a brain; hypnotised by the white-clad figures skipping through the St Andrews surf.
One of them seemed to be overcome with some sort of rapture, throwing…
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