Archive for the 'Lauren McManus' Category

Bon Voyage English Department!

Once again, the semester has flown by and is coming to an end. It has been a wonderful experience to contribute to this blog. I have been able to narrow down the endless list of jobs available to English majors, but have yet to find my calling. While next semester will be my last, I am indifferent of my feelings of leaving. Once I graduate, I will be left to fend for myself in the dog-eat-dog aspect of the real world by leaving the somewhat sheltered life of a college student. There is always the possibility of graduate school, an idea that will remain as a viable option. Despite my apprehension of leaving the safety net of college, I do believe my time here at UTA has given me the knowledge of navigating life outside of school. I can only hope for the best once I graduate.

Merry Christmas!

Meowy Christmas!!

Published in:Lauren McManus, Uncategorized |on December 12th, 2013 |No Comments »

Libraries, Reading and Day-Dreaming

Author Neil Gaiman gave a lecture on October 15th as part of The Reading Agency annual lectures about the importance of libraries, reading and day-dreaming.

In order to raise literacy in children, they need to know that reading is good. If a parent takes away a book because s/he considers it a ‘bad book’ then the child will believe that reading is frowned upon. In addition to having access to books, children need to read what they want to, not what you give them.  As Gaiman puts it, “A hackneyed, worn-out idea isn’t hackneyed and worn out to them…Do not discourage children from reading because you feel they are reading the wrong thing.”

“But libraries are about freedom. Freedom to read, freedom of ideas, freedom of communication.”

A library is the home of all information. From history to maps and fiction, libraries serve as a place where information is at your fingertips. With the rise of internet and computer use, libraries give the opportunity to use their computers and internet access for free. Some places around the world do not see the importance of libraries which results in closing them.  As a reader, I can only hope that libraries will not lose their place in the literate world.

Fiction has let the reader use their imagination when reading. Readers create the images, smells, etc. that the author has described. Without fiction, and books in general, our imaginations will not be fully developed or even existent. It seems as if the world’s imagination has lessened. While TV and movies provide some escape, it does not compare to the experience one gets while reading. Gaiman states that “Fiction can show you a different world. It can take you somewhere you’ve never been. Once you’ve visited other worlds, like those who ate fairy fruit, you can never be entirely content with the world that you grew up in. Discontent is a good thing: discontented people can modify and improve their worlds, leave them better, leave them different.” Imagination is a great attribute a person can possess.

I highly recommend reading his brilliant lecture.

Published in:Lauren McManus |on November 22nd, 2013 |No Comments »

Oh, that is where the phrase came from!

The origins of expressions and phrases used every day are not given much thought. Haven’t you ever wondered how the English-speaking world came to use these phrases?

Here are the histories of just a few common phrases.

“Blood is thicker than water”

Although this phrase implies the importance of familial bonds, the original phrase was actually “The blood of the covenant is far stronger than the water of the womb.” It has been suggested that the nobility changed the phrase to emphasize the importance of bloodlines.

“Cat got your tongue”

When a witty comeback fails to enter your mind, your loss of words are compared to a cat getting your tongue. According to author, Albert Jack, “having your tongue cut out and fed to cats was the punishment for liars during medieval times. Because ancient Egyptian cats were considered gods, this act was seen as a human offering to the gods.”

“To bite the dust”

We’ve all heard Queen’s hit “Another One Bites the Dust,” but did Queen know where the phrase came from? Interestingly enough, this phrase dates back 850 years before the Bible. In Homer’s The Iliad, soldiers, fighting in the Trojan War, are described dying with their faces in the dirt as if they were ‘biting the dust’.

“Wear your heart on your sleeve”

It is commonly known that “to wear your heart on your sleeve” refers to someone who openly shows their emotions and affections. This phrase originated in the Middle Ages when knights, who battled for honor, were given tokens of a lady’s affection. The lady would present the knight with the token, such as a handkerchief, as a sign she “gave her heart” to him. The knight would then put the token on his sleeve for everyone to see.

If you would like to learn more about the origins of common phrases, Albert Jack has published many books that are an interesting read. You can visit his website to explore more.

Published in:Lauren McManus |on November 14th, 2013 |No Comments »

E-reader vs. Paperback

I recently read an article on Scientific American pertaining to how technology has changed the way we read. With the invention of e-readers such as Kindle, Nook and the iPad, people are forgoing the classic paperback novel and using e-readers. E-readers have many advantages, such as holding multiple books without the bulkiness that comes with paper.

Avid readers may enjoy using e-readers while others prefer paper. There are many who vow to never use an e-reader because it takes away the physical and emotional aspect of reading a paper book. The act of turning pages, annotating in the margins, folding a corner of your favorite part, the smell of fresh pages, etc. are the pleasures of paperbacks.

The evolution of technology has allowed e-books to make up “more than 20% of all books sold to the public.” This increase raises questions as to what will happen to the publication industry. More revenue will be gained by publishing e-books, but what will happen to physical books? When asked this question, some have said that there will still be paperbacks, but we really don’t know what will happen.

Technology has vastly changed the world in many ways. The internet can give you the entire synopsis of a book and you don’t have to pick up the book let alone read it. You can even take classes online. While some of the advantages of technology are great, some take away the physicality of actions. Using an e-reader to find and download a book does not give you the same experience as going into a bookstore or library and using the Dewey Decimal System or just perusing until you find the book you need. Coming across new books when looking for something else is an exciting experience.

It has also been shown that e-readers do not give the mind the same experience as paperbacks. “Despite all the increasingly user-friendly and popular technology, most studies published since the early 1990s confirm earlier conclusions: paper still has advantages over screens as a reading medium. Together laboratory experiments, polls and consumer reports indicate that digital devices prevent people from efficiently navigating long texts, which may subtly inhibit reading comprehension. Compared with paper, screens may also drain more of our mental resources while we are reading and make it a little harder to remember what we read when we are done. Whether they realize it or not, people often approach computers and tablets with a state of mind less conducive to learning than the one they bring to paper. And e-readers fail to re-create certain tactile experiences of reading on paper, the absence of which some find unsettling.” With this being said, many students use e-readers to carry their textbooks. If students were to be ‘old school’ and use the physical textbook, there could be a rise in academic performance. The lack of focus when using e-readers leads to just looking at the words on the page as opposed to reading and understanding the text.

As someone who has read on an e-reader, I still prefer paperbacks. There is nothing that an e-reader can have that will persuade me otherwise.

Are you team e-reader or team paperback?

Published in:Lauren McManus |on November 7th, 2013 |No Comments »

Importance of Letters

What has happened to the presence of handwritten letters? Remember when you received a letter from a loved one? Or perhaps a festive invitation to an event with confetti popping out of the envelope? Besides the fact that I was born in the 90s, I do have an old soul. Receiving letters in the mail that do not pertain to a bill or credit card companies claiming you are “pre-approved” to invest in their card, give me excitement. Someone out there took time out of their day to actually sit down and write a letter. That act alone points out how important to that person you are.Whether it be just a short “hi” or a long descriptive letter about an event that happened, handwritten letters provide emotions through words in addition to the reader’s role in that person’s life.

Because of technology, the use of letters has diminished. The joy of receiving mail has dwindled as well. Letters were one of the main ways of communication before the advancement of technology. The individual personality of a letter gave the reader a sense of importance and authenticity. Receiving handwritten letters is a great joy; to receive a letter is a personal act of acknowledgement out of love-whether it be familial, friendship or romantic. Without this form of communication, personal relationships through technology are not as effective. Talking on the telephone is the equivalent to a handwritten letter with the added plus of actually hearing the others’ voice.

Texting is rather vague; the use of emoticons can add personality to the message, but without the use of actual handwriting, the reader cannot know the true meaning behind the message. The punctuation, such as an exclamation point, can be entered without actual reciprocation in the writer’s feelings.

Video chat has improved greatly. This alone can be used to have a real face to face interactionwith another person. However, technology may fail and cause a lapse in video feedback.You could be chatting with a friend when all of a sudden your friend’s video feedback has been frozen. All you’re left with is a hilariously weird face and an unfinished conversation.

While technology is a great advancement, there will come a day when technology will fail due to some outrageous superhuman technological virus that we will be left without a telephone, internet, and video chat. Which will lead to chaos within the internet -dependent community as well as those who communicate via technology. How about we revive the simplicity of writing a letter and sending it to a loved one?

Published in:Lauren McManus |on October 29th, 2013 |No Comments »

The Giver Movie

Filming has begun of the highly-anticipated movie version of the beloved Newberry Award winning novel, The Giver.

Here is the run-down of the cast:

Jonas will be played by Australian actor Brenton Thwaites. He is known for his work in Australian TV such as SLiDE and Home and Away. He has also starred in the TV movie Blue Lagoon: The Awakening.

Oscar-winner Jeff Bridges (The Big Lebowski, Crazy Heart, and True Grit) will portray the Giver.

The Chief Elder will be played by the accomplished Meryl Streep (Sophie’s Choice, The Devil Wears Prada and The Iron Lady).

Jonas’s parents will be portrayed by Alexander Skarsgård (True Blood) and the demure Katie Holmes (The Kennedys).

Newcomer, Emma Tremblay will bring Jonas’s sister, Lily, to life.

Asher and Fiona, Jonas’s friends will be played by Cameron Monaghan (Showtime’s Shameless) and Odeya Rush (The Odd Life of Timothy Green).

Rosemary will be played by Taylor Swift (Valentine’s Day).

For those who have not read the novel, Lois Lowry’s The Giver is truly a memorable work. Set in a seemingly Utopian society, the main character Jonas embarks on a journey of uncovering the flaws of living in what he now sees as a dystopian society. Bound by conformity, the community has adopted Sameness, in which every citizen dresses and appears according to society’s rules. Color is obsolete, feelings are nonexistent, and climate is controlled. Being slightly different, such as Asher’s (Jonas’s friend) lateness, is frowned upon. Once a child reaches the age of twelve, they are assigned a job based on what the Elders feel is appropriate. Jobs range from being a birth mother, which is considered a demeaning job, to being Caretaker of the Old. After being taken care of in the House of the Old, the old are then “released” from society. Jonas is assigned the job of the Receiver. This job entails keeping all of the unpleasant memories in life such as famine, pain, and war. In addition to the hurtful memories, Jonas also receives memories of joy, happiness and love. With these memories, Jonas begins to question the society he lives in and the existence of Sameness. Jonas uncovers the brutality in this society and enlists the Giver’s help in making changes.

Bringing the dystopian society to life in The Giver will be a challenge. One of the main elements of the story is the absence of color until Jonas receives memories from the Giver pertaining to color. I have noticed that the characters who have dark eyes in the novel are going to be portrayed by those with light-colored eyes. In this society, variation is non-existent. There are only four characters throughout the book that have light-colored eyes. Of course, with the advances of technology, the eyes can be digitally enhanced or the actors could wear colored contacts. I have read the book numerous times and really hope that the movie is just as good. The nit-picky details are what makes the novel spectacular. In addition, Fiona and Rosemary have red hair, which is a very important detail. Jonas first experience of color is Fiona’s fiery red hair. The introduction of color will dramatically change the way Jonas thinks about the society in which he lives in.

In all, I believe the cast to be strong. Mixing mostly unknown actors with very well-known actors will generate media and create a wider audience. Of course, the book alone already has a wide fan base. Bridges and Streep will bring depth and strength to the movie. I have not seen Holmes portray someone who is not humble, but I do believe she will do justice to the character of the mother. I have only seen Skarsgård play a vampire and it will be interesting to see a more nurturing side of him. The only concern that I have concerns the casting of Taylor Swift. The role of Rosemary, a twelve year old, is mentioned a few times throughout the novel, yet her character is essential. Swift has not had much acting experience and the level of emotion needed to portray Rosemary is crucial. I do look forward to seeing the outcome of the movie and hope that justice is served.

Published in:Lauren McManus |on October 29th, 2013 |No Comments »

Definition of Violence

Violence is an act ubiquitous in the world today. As part of an assignment for Dr. Mackenzie’s American Literature class subtitled A Search for Identity Amidst Violence, Sanda Lingle, a first-year Kinesiology major, has created a beautifully written poem entitled Define Violence. Her poem is hauntingly realistic and brings the reader into the world of an innocent 10 year old who has since lost his innocence through violence.

Despite her talent, Sanda does not see herself as a poet. Her talent was nurtured in a creative writing class she attended at TCC. For the class, she created a portfolio of writings that impressed her teacher. Now, the idea of her poem being on the UTA English Department blog was unexpected.
Definition of Violence
Sanda’s thought process included a look at what violence means to everyone.

She intended for the poem to be “open to interpretation” because the definition of violence varies according from person to person. The first line, “Violence is the sprout of silence,” sets the tone of the overall poem. While some sit idly by, others experience violence and bottle up their emotions until they eventually become a “ticking time bomb.” By incorporating liquor within the family in addition to a boy who associated in gangs, “My hands, are spooked/stained the color red..,” Sanda was able to engrave readers’ minds with realistic images.

Please enjoy Sanda’s captivating definition of violence.

Define Violence - Sanda Lingle


is the sprout of silence.

The opposite of violence is peace,

Oh! Yes! That was a grand feast!

Shaking the hand of my cheating father

and there she was, my silent, coked out, mother

with the mistress across from the table

I swear I could just slit her like Kane did to Abel.

The heart burns with so much aggression

I cannot wait, to express my suppression

The innocence deceased

in the silence of the streets

“I declare my hate!”

I can’t bare,





So the silence boils

and overflows

while I spoil

what’s left with the blow on my nose

through all this hiding, I cannot take. . .

“Don’t bother! You can’t relate!”

My body is inked from toe to head

My hands, are spooked

stained the color red..

You can’t miss my violent cries-

Do you not see the fear in my eyes?

All this, because of my dad’s deceit

I watched, as he hit her on repeat

I was the one that found her!

with an empty bottle of liquor

eyes bloodshot

the violence, red handed and caught.

I was only ten on that silent night

A loss with no cause, distilled such a fright.

Published in:Lauren McManus |on October 11th, 2013 |No Comments »

Beowulf films and screenplays

This week I had the pleasure of attending Dr. Stodnick’s History of British Literature class. The assignment was to create a screenplay and film out of Beowulf’s death and legacy, lines 2710-3030 of the poem. The two films shown were creatively put together and at times, comical. Stephanie Bongiorno, Alex Novoa, and Jen Weldon created one film while Christopher Darling and Shawn Wyatt produced the other.

In the first film, Stephanie, Alex, and Jen stated that their interpretive problem included steering away from full narration in order to capture the essence of the poem

The film in its entirety showed the amount of effort put into the making. Because their resources were limited to a college student’s budget, they did not have the luxury of splurging on chain mail or gold treasures. However, they were able to harness the acting skills of a horse that, belonged to Jen’s sister. With the help of free pizza, a promise to dress as knights, and partake in a bloody battle (a fake battle of course), this group was able to recruit several extras for the film. The result, the Battle at Ravenswood (or the Battle at UTA campus, as the background scenes included familiar buildings and parking lots), was a tour de force for the newbie cinematographers. Played in slow motion, the scene captured the brutality of the poem and the musical score added a level of pathos to the overall effect.

Contrary to the first film, the second was interpreted as a modern event, with Beowulf being part of a gang that gave back to the community rather than tearing it apart. Reporter, John Smith, delivered news of the death of Beowulf and spoke to those who knew him of his legacy to the community. Since dragons are rather scarce in today’s society, Christopher and Shawn decided to use violence as the symbol for the dragon. The safety of the community symbolized the gold in the original poem. When Beowulf slew the dragon, the treasure was his gift- therefore, once the violence stopped, the community was safe.

Comedy ensued when an image filled the screen with the caption, “The person does not want his face to be shown on television.” The use of this device suggested that the identity of the source should be protected. This intensified the modern day interpretation. Our society can be compared to this analysis. The government in Beowulf is portrayed as vigilante justice, meaning the concern of the government’s reaction is less important than the safety of its people.

By creating a screenplay for Beowulf, the students were able to interpret the poem in a way that others, who have not read the poem, can understand. The students were also able to understand the material by the “constant re-reading of the poem, which proved to help the material sink in,” said Stephanie. The fact that these English students have little to no experience creating a film added to the comedic presence in the presentation.

Christopher and Shawn’s video can be watched here.

Published in:Lauren McManus |on October 7th, 2013 |No Comments »


Hello peers, my name is Lauren McManus and I will be contributing to this magnificent blog. I am currently a senior English major and am excitedly awaiting graduation, while contemplating the answers to the dreaded question of what will you do with your English degree? By completing this internship of writing, I hope to find affirmation for the future of English majors. While writing is a great outlet, the endless possibilities of jobs pertaining to this major is rather daunting. Please enjoy future posts on this blog and spread the word of the intelligence within UTA (especially throughout the English Department!)

Published in:Lauren McManus |on October 7th, 2013 |No Comments »