Storms, Cyclones and Wind in Art and Storytelling

The wind blew as ’twad blawn its last; The rattling showers rose on the blast; The speedy gleams the darkness swallow’d; Loud, deep, and lang, the thunder bellow’d: That night, a child might understand, The Deil had business on his hand.Robert Burns “Windy Witch was gone” an illustration from the short story “Windy Witch” written……

Creating A Fairytale World

To a modern audience, what makes a setting feel ‘fairytale’? What is it about the tone, style and plot? I argue here that what makes a fairytale setting feel ‘fairytale’ is mostly the ‘fairytale logic’. Just as we know, almost intuitively, that a particular narrative is a fairy tale when we read it, it seems……

The Storybook Jungle

Edward Julius Detmold (British painter) 1883 - 1957, The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad The Sailor

Symbolically the jungle is the domain of the savage. In contrast, the forest/woodland is the domain of the wild. Both are ruled by appetites. In children’s literature, the jungle is often a carnivalesque arena, just scary enough to provide a thrill. Sometimes the jungle is brought into the home. The Tale of the Golden Cockerel……

Writing Activity: Describe Medical Rooms and Hospitals

William Simpson - One of the wards of the hospital at Scutari 1856

Medical rooms and hospitals are safe, infantalising, dangerous, creepy, life-saving, traumatising places, and I offer them here as examples of what Foucault called ‘heterotopia’. The hospital’s ambiguous relationship to everyday social space has long been a central theme of hospital ethnography. Often, hospitals are presented either as isolated “islands’ defined by biomedical regulation of space……

Swamps, Marshes, Quicksand And Sinking In Storytelling

Charles Ernest Butler - Poole Harbour, Dorsetshire 1904

Here’s one little-known aspect of existing as a Gen X — the fear of sinking to death in sand. Perhaps you escaped this particular horror if your television exposure was moderated, but I’ve asked around, and I’m not the only child of the 80s to approach wet, sandy areas with extreme caution. Films and cartoons conveyed the idea that sinking into sand, never to be seen again, was an ever present danger.

How can setting be a character?

When asked to write something about setting, for an essay or an exam, what exactly are we being asked to describe? When I was in high school my English teachers advised us all against writing the exam essay on setting. So I did. But I wouldn’t advise the same thing. Setting essays provide plenty of……