Tutor profile: Shaun C.
How are the Psalms in the Bible similar to or different from the kind of poetry we're familiar with today?
Whether we read them in the original Hebrew or an English translation, the Psalms demonstrate many of the same poetic qualities authors strive for today. Their language is patterned, compressed, sensual, and vivid. In other words, their authors deliberately chose to arrange specific words in ways that trigger readers' senses and their imagination. They were used not only to praise God, but also to tell stories, record history, and commemorate special events. Poems are still written for all of these reasons today. When it comes to differences between the Psalms and other poetry, one of the key qualities that stands out is that they don't rhyme, at least not in the way to which we're accustomed. Many contemporary poems rhyme by containing similar sounds at the ends of lines. The Psalms "rhyme" in the sense that each line contains a complete thought or idea that is related to the other thoughts around it. This relationship is sometimes called "parallelism," though it can actually involve contrasts between lines. By reflecting on the relationships between the parallel lines, readers of the Psalms can arguably gain greater insight into the spiritual ideas contained within.
Subject: Film and Theater
What is the significance of the shot-reverse shot pattern in classical Hollywood narrative film?
The shot-reverse shot pattern occurs in almost all narrative films, whether they were produced during Hollywood's golden age or at another time and place in film history. To the naked eye, the pattern is quite simple. In fact, it's part of what is sometimes referred to as classical film's "invisible style," in other words, the way in which films tell stories without viewers noticing their complex construction. On the simplest level, the pattern consists of two shots: the first of a performer shot in medium close-up, speaking to the camera; the second of another performer, framed in a similar way, as though the camera was looking over the first performer's shoulder. The pattern is a common way of representing dialogue between two characters, sometimes during a scene of heightened dramatic tension. Especially since the pattern is often used to represent scenes between romantic couples it builds intimacy between the viewer and the characters, as though the viewer were "part of the scene," positioned somewhere in between the two characters.
Why is poetry so hard to understand?
Students often complain about the difficulty of poetry, but the fact that they sometimes can't understand it really isn't their fault. In the first place, many poets write in a way that is arguably intended to be difficult. One of the goals of poetry is to stir readers from their traditional, everyday understandings of the world. What better way to do this than to demand that readers challenge themselves and really pay close attention to what the poet is saying? That being said, not all poetry is designed to be complex, and oftentimes students find it difficult because they are not given the proper context in which to appreciate it, which should ultimately be the job of their teachers.
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