Mediations: Philip Young

  • Mediations comments on public relations theory and practice, with an emphasis on social media and communication ethics. Philip Young is project leader for NEMO: New Media, Modern Democracy at Campus Helsingborg, Lund University, Sweden. All views expressed here are personal and should not be seen as representing Lund University or any other organisation.

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    I'm with in this, of course.

    My first year students will think I'm pedantic in pointing out that 'this years' requires an apostrophe, and that the plural of 'hero' is not 'heros' nor is it 'hero's'. (Sorry, but I've just read these mistakes a hundred times).

    I sympathise with the case for reforming spelling in UK English, but we're stuck with what we have for now and need to impress upon journalism and PR students that they are set to become professional writers. So they have to care.

    The only way to learn about the oddities of the English language is to read. With that in mind, we shouldn't be too prescriptive about what. My teachers who banned children's author Enid Blyton and university lecturers who were dismissive of Thomas Hardy should be ashamed.

    So you read Dan Brown or JK Rowling? Excellent.

    Richard, I remember you wrote an interesting post a while ago about the reading habits of your students. Perhaps you could add a link...

    The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

    One People by Guy Kennaway

    Blindness by Jose Saramago

    The Thought Gang by Tibor Fischer

    Ayn Rand, Anthem
    Arthur C. Clarke, Childhood's End
    Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

    Personal favorites indicating today's science fiction is tomorrow's reality.

    Don't forget to direct students to sign up for word of the day by dictionary.com.

    Just a suggestion, but why not do a poll with your own students...

    I know by experience students are reluctant to read whatever teachers tell them to do so. They just watch the movie or search online for a decent resume...

    Being able to select the books themselves would also be a good incentive to actually start doing some reading.

    Pietr

    Book club candidates for me would include:

    We need to talk about Kevin

    His Dark Materials trilogy, yes they are strictly speaking children's books but they're great

    My Sister's Keeper for the moral dilemmas it raises

    Ooh, and how about A Prayer for Owen Meany because it's one of my all time favourite books and everyone should read it!

    I'm trying to remember the books that captured my imagination when I was in my late teens/early 20s. I think they included ...

    Patrick Suskind - Perfume
    John Irving - A Prayer for Owen Meaney (another vote for this one!)
    Ian McEwan's early collections of short stories - First Love Last Rights and The Cement Garden (not to everyone's taste though)

    For students who have real difficulty reading novels, why not suggest some good, gripping non-fiction - such as Joe Simpson's Touching the Void?

    I thought you would have suggested The Rider... :-) Anyway: one novel that usually works for students over here is Are You Experienced by William Sutcliffe (funny and not too difficult, but really well written). I could give you a longer list, but let's not overload those poor students of yours... ;-)
    BTW: hear you are in Belgium next week?

    The stories and novels of Annie Proulx (The Shipping News, Postcards, Close Range (which includes Brokeback Mountain)).

    Your students are fortunate to have you as a teacher. My patience with people (esp in PR & advertising) who cheerfully pipe up "Oh, I don't read books" is thin.

    Really interesting and rather relevant is Ben Elton's Blind Faith. The book is set in the future and is about a society where privacy is unacceptable and everyone has to Blog their lives in intimate detail... I couldn't put it down

    Deer Hunting With Jesus, by Joe Bageant - a humorous, engaging, scathing essay on the plight of the US underclass.
    And pretty much anything by William Boyd.
    G

    I second "His Dark Material Trilogy".
    My student son (who reads Lord of The Rings at least twice a year) says that it is even better than LOTR (and that is quite a compliment!).
    Trudi Canavan's Black Magician Trilogy is recommended too. However, he is studying for a masters in Maths, so whether his choice of reading matter is what a student of journalism would read is an interesting point.Is there a type of book that suits one type of character more than another?

    Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash. It's been out a while but I just finished reading it. Not only is it a great story that draws you in but you really pay attention to the writing as he is constantly slipping in little things that connect. Enormous creativity in his characters. Very cool.

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