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Thursday, September 15, 2022

Assessment in Moodle 4.0: So Much New Potential

Moodle allows you to bring together assessment, content, collaboration all in one place. In the video below, I discuss the kinds of popular assessments and assessment strategies in this brief video. This includes multiple choice quizzes to use with your smartphones, tablets, laptops; self-grading assessments, short answers, essays, and collaborative workshops. All are available with Moodle mobile. 

assessments with Moodle 4.0
Check out the video 

The key is following good instructional design so that you are aligning the assessments with the content and learning objectives. Moodle assessments are perfect for the courses set up for self-registration, on-demand content and assessment with automatic generation of certificates and badges upon successful completion of the assessment. The following book shows you how to incorporate activities (resources) and also popular plugins. 

Moodle 4 E-Learning Course Development, 5th Edition / Packt Publishing

Link to the book: 

https://www.amazon.com/Moodle-Learning-Course-Development-instructional/dp/180107903X/ref=sr_1_1?crid=Y4IM6SMS4SNU&keywords=moodle+4+e-learning+course+development&qid=1663258878&sprefix=moodle+%2Caps%2C108&sr=8-1 



Monday, September 12, 2022

Interview with Claudia Ruiz-Graham, Co-Founder, Imaged Reality, on using Virtual Reality for Training, Field Work, and Team Building

 Welcome to an interview with Claudia Ruiz-Graham, founder of Imaged Reality (https://www.imagedreality.com/). Imaged Reality develops immersive technologies with applications to Earth Sciences in Energy, Mining, Engineering and Academia. With their technology, customers can create digital reservoir atlases and virtual core stores in immersive and collaborative environments, integrating data across different scales. This leads to improved interpretations and a better integration between multi-disciplinary teams, resulting in better decision-making, risk reduction and increased capital return.

Lively discussion of the amazing world of virtual reality and geology

Stratbox, available in Desktop and VR, is a SaaS (Software as a Service) platform for collaborative data integration in 3D space. It allows users to study and interpret reservoir analogues using 3D outcrop models, integrating data from regional to pore scale in a single 3D environment, in which users can collaborate remotely from anywhere. Imaged Reality offers customers “on demand” access to curated collections of digital outcrops from around the world which serve as reservoir analogues. Stratbox is also used as the software of choice in instructor-led virtual geology courses.




Stratbox Core Explorer is a web-based platform that enables customers on-demand access to their internal collections of core images and automated integration of related data such as thin sections, metadata, etc. Users can collaborate to create core descriptions and participate in virtual core workshops from any location.
The team at Imaged Reality is working with multinational companies and universities in the UK, US, Europe and Latin America. They have facilitated ground-breaking virtual field trips for Shell, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD), Staatsolie, and Ecopetrol. They are also proud to work with Plymouth University, Louisiana State University, Texan A&M, and University College of Dublin. Our team is a mix of Industry and gaming technologies experts. We are starting our second funding round, we would like to invite investors, customers, technology partners and industry experts who want to work with us, to help people understand the Planet better. In this interview, Susan Nash and Claudia Ruiz-Graham also discuss how the Stratbox platform can be incorporated with a learning management system such as Moodle to make it possible not only to have the immersive training experience, but also to incorporate assessments to earn credentials, certifications, college credit, and more. In addition to Imaged Reality, please check out Susan Nash's new book, Moodle 4.0 E-Learning Course Development for guidelines for creating courses that build in virtual worlds, in an easy-to-access framework that incorporates assessments and repositories of supporting material
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Effective E-Learning with Virtual Learning Environments

 Virtual learning environments take advantage of all modalities of online instruction, ranging from listening to recorded lectures to interacting in real-time in a 3D immersive environment.  Perhaps the most flexible virtual learning environment now is Moodle, particularly with Moodle 4.0's new capabilities. Please check out Moodle 4.0 E-Learning Course Development

https://youtu.be/ft8003rMjag


There are a number of ways in which virtual learning environments are the most effective path forward for training, primarily when there are health, safety, logistics, and cost issues.

When cohorts and distributed teams must be trained together over a multi-week or month period, collaborative virtual learning is extremely effective. It's often good to couple the virtual learning environment with a learning management system (LMS) such as Moodle or Canvas to integrate assessment and to provide calendars, student success apps such as check-ins and notices, and "did you know" and "check your knowledge" informal engagers. 

https://youtu.be/zaVosvdIco4


For pointers on how to develop and effective elearning course that follows instructional design principles, please check out the highly rated Moodle 4 E-Learning Course Development

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Interview with Ian Wild on Effective E-learning: From 3D Immersive Training to Fearless Physics and Math

Welcome to an interview with Ian Wild, AVEVA, who shares his experiences with Moodle and discusses how to design effective, interactive learning experiences that are effective across the board -- from math and physics, to complex immersive 3D training environments. Some of his many publications can be found through his LinkedIn site: https://www.linkedin.com/in/iandavidwild/

Ian and I have an interesting chat about what it takes to be effective when using a VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) such as Moodle to work with all kinds of learners and their learning goals. Augmented Reality in Training: Ian specializes in developing plugins to create 3D learning environment that can be used to simulate real-world locations and thus provide authentic training experiences in ways that reduce risk and allow real-time collaboration and training.

There is a link on the "Unified Learning" platform that covers augmented learning (https://www.aveva.com/en/products/unified-learning/) In addition, here is a free plugin that will allow you to experiment with augmented reality in Moodle: Wavefront renderer plugin, https://moodle.org/plugins/mod_wavefront.
Fearless Physics and Math? Ian shows us how this is possible in a completely different type of training and tutoring. Here Ian uses Moodle and Moodle plugins to create an environment where young math students can gain confidence as they work through the levels and successfully pass through the competency frameworks.

**** 
 Just released!! Moodle 4.0 Learning Course Development (Packt Publishing) -available via Packt (subscription) or via Amazon Author interview: Susan Smith Nash for Packt Publishing

Monday, July 11, 2022

Interview with Stephen Downes on E-Learning and Connectivism

Welcome to a conversation with Stephen Downes, National Research Council of Canada. Stephen has been at the forefront of innovative approaches to learning and e-learning for many years, having invented and launched, among other things, the game-changing concept, the MOOC.

Stephen Downes works with the Digital Technologies Research Centre at the National Research Council of Canada specializing in new instructional media and personal learning technology. His degrees are in Philosophy, specializing in epistemology, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of science.

Today, we talk about where we are with e-learning and how connectivism works in learning.  How and where are connections made that result in learning? We address those questions and more in this video interview

If you'd like to read and listen to more, please start by visiting Stephen Downes's website:  http://www.downes.ca . 

Then, be sure to subscribe to the free daily news aggregator and place for helpful insights and opinions: OL Daily https://www.downes.ca/news/OLDaily.htm

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Just released!! Moodle 4.0 Learning Course Development (Packt Publishing) -available via Packt (subscription) or via Amazon. 

For more interview videos, visit Relatecasts: E-Learn Chat and Life Edge (here is a link with data scientist Sashi Gunturu). 

Interview conducted by Susan Smith Nash. 

Saturday, July 09, 2022

How will Moodle 4.0 affect Human Logic and other Moodle Partners?

 Moodle 4.0 has been released and it represents a tremendous breakthrough. The upgrade has focused on improving the user experience while keeping the best of the legacy resources and activities, as well as the overall framework. 

The result is a dynamic, revitalized platform that can energize learning programs so that students are more engaged and more likely to succeed. It's also a big "plus" for certificate programs and applied learning because bridging theory and application is easier than ever. 


Moodle 4.0 offers an almost infinite range of new opportunities for interaction, assessment, and commercialization of training and education

What does Moodle 4.0 mean to award-winning Moodle partners such as Human Logic? Human Logic, based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, has earned a great reputation for corporate e-learning as well as providing integrated solutions for universities and technical institutes. 

The first thing that the new interface assures is that students can more easily keep track of their work, see what is coming up, and to interact with their fellow students, collaborators, and instructors. That is a very important aspect, particularly in highly technical collaborative training for industries such as energy, manufacturing, and supply chain management. 

The new interface and user experience (upgraded dashboards, redesigned mobile interface, etc.), is fantastic for young learners because it makes it easier for them to work with their parents and tutors as well as their core teachers. 

Finally, the fact that Moodle is open source means that it's possible to customize solutions so that they align with the specific goals and mission of the organization and the learners. 

Please stay tuned! This will be one of many articles about the fantastic capabilities in Moodle 4.0! 

Susan Nash

Susan Smith Nash, Ph.D. 


Friday, April 29, 2022

The Renaissance: New Ideas

The Renaissance (1450 – 1600) marked the flowering of culture, science and ideas about the nature of humanity that occurred in Europe, starting in Italy, spread throughout Europe. Characterized by philosophy, art, architecture, and literature, the Renaissance was a cultural revolution fueled by wealth from trade and new technology, along with political consolidations. It began in Italy in the 15th century (the “Quattrocento”) where the wealth banking family, the Medicis, became great patrons of art and learning. 

The Big Question: 

How did the philosophical ideas of Humanism reinforce the cultural and scientific revolution of the Renaissance?


See:  The Philosophical Foundations of Humanism

 During the Middle Ages, Aristotelianism reigned. It was a nice, orderly way of thinking of the world. Everything was in its right place, and there was always balance, equilibrium, and symmetry. Perhaps nowhere was this more evident than in Aristotle’s book, Categories, from his Organon. The Renaissance embraced the structure and symmetry of Aristotle as a way of creating beauty, instead of enforcing order in the world and structure, as it was used in the Middle Ages. The renewed emphasis on the philosophy of the Classics allowed investigation into representation of the phenomenal world, which is to say during the Renaissance, it was now acceptable to explore the natural world, and to ask questions about his forms and functions. Finding new ways to represent the natural world was also encouraged, which meant that the Renaissance brought together art, science, philosophy in new ways. As a result, we see the development of 3-dimensional art on a 2-dimensional canvas (thanks to, for example, linear perspective converging on a vanishing point where there are orthogonals, such as large tiles in the floor in a painting). 


Read: Defining Humanism in the Renaissance

Overview: Humanism represented a change of focus. Instead of simply seeking to define the right place of everything within a rigid hierarchy, Renaissance thinkers began to focus on the human being, and human potential for achieving great things, and finding a moment of unity with the good and the beautiful. There was a renewed interest in the philosophical writings of the ancient Greeks, primarily Plato and Aristotle.  In addition to exploring the philosophy of the Classics, the Renaissance thinkers also studied their buildings, sculptures, and other works of art. 


Foundational Humanism

Petrarch: Considered the key philosophical figure in the Renaissance, Petrarch, who was Italian, was driven by the idea of the quest for the ideal. For Petrarch, there was no conflict between realizing human potential and having religious faith. Petrarch was very interested in the ancient Greeks and Romans, and the classics, not just in terms of art and architecture, but also poetry, philosophy, and lost works. He invented the sonnet form, and he wrote love poems for Laura, although he had very little real contact with her in real life. His poetry and prose championed realism and empirical knowledge. 


Giovanni Pico della Mirandola: His “Oration on the Dignity of Man” is considered the Manifesto of the Renaissance. Pico resurrected humanism of ancient Greek philosophy, including Aristotle and Plato. His ideas mainly based on Plato. Through mental struggle, ascends great chain of being towards the angels and communion with God – unity which is very Platonic. 


Thomas More:  Wrote Utopia, an example of an ideal world which represents humanistic philosophy. In it, each person has a place in society that corresponds with their true nature and abilities, and there is communal ownership of property.  


Montaigne:  Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, Lord of Montaigne, was one of the most important philosophers of the French Renaissance.  His essays were explorations of his own thoughts and attitudes, and he mulled over the prevailing philosophies and reflected upon the novelties of the times, such as the tales of travel in the Americas. 


Reformation

Luther: Faith and the Individual

Martin Luther, a German professor, was famous for his “95 Theses” which rested on the main concepts that the Bible is the core authority and that individuals can be saved (achieve salvation) only by faith and not by deeds. The “95 Theses” were published in 1517, and unleashed the Reformation, a religious schism which broke with the Catholic Church and repudiated the pope’s authority, rejected the validity of the sale of indulgences. Instead, he promoted “The Priesthood of All Believers.” Luther was excommunicated in 1521 at the Diet of Worms, after which he used the printing press to create pamphlets that explains the new doctrine.


Calvin:  Break Away from Hierarchy 

John Calvin, a French Protestant, believed in predestination and the omnipotence of God. Calvin was a stern believer in the power of God’s word and the responsibility of individuals to learn to read the Bible directly and to obey the word of God, without intermediaries (priests, bishops, etc.).  The core concept of Calvinism is that God selects those who, through grace, are made capable of believing in God, which is the route to salvation (not deeds, or purchasing indulgences). It was very anti-authoritarian, and was not welcome among the priests, kings, popes, bishops, and others who had benefited from a belief system that gave them privilege, power, and authority. 


The Middle Way

Henry VIII, miffed at Pope Clemente’s refusal to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, decided to create a religion that maintained hierarchies and the divine rights of kings, but which eliminated the Pope. That church was The Church of England, and it instantly made enemies of both Protestants (Calvinists, etc.) and Catholics. Henry VIII sought to replace both with his Church of England, and he did so by burning Calvinists at the stake for heresy, and beheading Catholics.  



Reflect:

That was impressive! What impresses you most? Please list them.

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.


Expand: Machiavelli’s The Prince (1532): The End Justifies the Means


Dedicated to his patron, Lorenzo de Medici, The Prince (1532, but written earlier) contains advice to the prince about how to acquire and maintain power. Much of the focus is on the psychology of the subjects, and so it is often considered a practical guide into the psychology of leadership, and the dynamic between the leader and followers. 


Machiavelli first defines principalities, types of armies, and then moves into the character and behavior of the prince. Written in a pragmatic style, with a tone of scientific inquiry, some of the passages seem almost satirical, such as when Machiavelli concludes that it is better for the Prince to be feared than loved by his subjects, better to be cruel than merciful, but is a good idea to launch large projects in order to create a positive reputation. Enormously influential, but not at all an antidote to political hot water, Machiavelli was accused of conspiracy and tortured in 1513.  


Later, Machiavelli wrote The Prince as well as historical and literary works.  The main point of The Prince is that almost any tactics can be justified in achieving the overall goal (creating a stable princedom), and if the populace is treacherous, then treachery on the part of the leader is justified.  The book was condemned by Pope Clement VIII, but nevertheless became widely adopted and studied. 


Explore:  Scientific Revolution

Francis Bacon: The Scientific Method

Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626) was determined to invent a scientific method based on experimentation rather than parsing scriptures for evidence of natural law. He wanted to bring to light all the things that were previously hidden or unknown, and to do it for the good of humanity. His most important scientific writings were in essence writings in the philosophy of science. His book, “Novum Organum Scientiarum” (The New Scientific Method) lays out procedures for scientific investigation. 


Galileo:  The World Is Round, Despite Orthodoxy

1543):  Born in Poland, Copernicus was an astronomer who developed a celestial model which placed the sun in the middle of the planetary system (instead of Earth at the center). The heliocentric solar system was described in “On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres.” Copernicus was considered heretical by the Roman Catholic Church. 


Galileo (1564 – 1642) was convicted of heresy for his belief that the world is not flat, and barely escaped being burned at the stake, although he did spend time in prison. He was most famous for his work in astronomy and math, and his assertion that the Earth is not flat. 


Discuss:  Similarity and Differences

Discuss the ways in which humanistic philosophy found its way into science, art, literature, and philosophy. What were the similarities and differences across the areas of study? 


Check your knowledge Quiz (5 questions):


1.  The great patron of the arts in Quattrocento Italy was

a) Giovanni de Medici (correct)

b) Pope Clemente VII

c) Niccolo Machiavelli

d) Pantagruel, as chronicled by Rabelai


2.  Machiavelli asserts in The Prince that mercenaries are

a) essential for defense

b) dangerous and can leave one vulnerable (correct)

c) expensive and wasteful

d) useful because they bring new ideas


3)  Copernicus devised a heliocentric planetary model which asserted that 

a) the moon was at the center, and the “Prince of Tides”

b) the planets have moons, and the moons are sometimes more important than the planets themselves

c) the sun is at the center, and the planets rotate around it (correct)

d) the earth is flat


4)  Humanistic thought in the Renaissance includes all except the following:

a) a return to Classical models

b) the human being has infinite possibilities of self-actualization

c) human accomplishment should be celebrated, and it brings together science, literature, politics, architecture, art, and more

d) Literacy is dangerous and all serious works of science, politics, and literature should be written in Latin (correct) 


Glossary

Heliocentric planetary system: developed by Copernicus. The planets rotate around the sun. 


Reformation:  The reaction and reorganization of the church based on Martin Luther’s 95 Theses (written in 1517) which criticizes the Roman Catholic Church. 


Quattrocento:  The 1400s (15th century) in Italian


Petrarchan sonnet: a sonnet form popularized by Petrarch, consisting of an octave with the rhyme scheme abbaabba and of a sestet with one of several rhyme schemes, as cdecde or cdcdcd


Elizabethan sonnet: a type of sonnet much used by Shakespeare, written in iambic pentameter and consisting of three quatrains and a final couplet with the rhyme scheme abab cdcd efef gg.


Vanishing point: the point at which receding parallel lines viewed in perspective appear to converge


Linear perspective: a type of perspective used by artists in which the relative size, shape, and position of objects are determined by drawn or imagined lines converging at a point on the horizon.


Orthogonal line: A related term, orthogonal projection, describes a method for drawing three-dimensional objects with linear perspective. It refers to perspective lines, drawn diagonally along parallel lines that meet at a so-called "vanishing point." Such perspective lines are orthogonal, or perpendicular to one another.


Key Takeaways

Upon successful completion of this lesson, you will be able to 


1. Define humanism in the Renaissance

2. Explain the political philosophy of Machiavelli in The Prince

3.  List important works of philosophy in the Renaissance

4.  Identify key scientific works in the Renaissance

5.  Describe utopian writing in the Renaissance and its impact


Lesson Toolbox

Renaissance Links


Encyclopedia Britannica:  Renaissance art and architecture. https://www.britannica.com/event/Renaissance  


Metropolitan Museum of Art: Renaissance. 

https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/keywords/baroque-art/


History.com: Renaissance Art: http://www.history.com/topics/renaissance-art


Art Institute of Chicago: Arms, Armor, Medieval, and Renaissance http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/armor 


Virtual Uffizi Gallery / Florence. https://plus.google.com/u/0/+UffiziFlorence 


Art Museums: Where to see Renaissance Art. https://www.italian-renaissance-art.com/Art-Museums.html 


Renaissance Inventions: http://www.inventionware.com/renaissance-inventions/ 


More, Thomas. Utopia. https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2130/2130-h/2130-h.htm 

Machiavelli, Niccolo.  The Prince. http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1232 


Grotius.  The Rights of War and Peace. http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/46564  


Cortes, Hernan. Letters to Emperor Carlos V. https://archive.org/stream/lettersofcorts01cortuoft/lettersofcorts01cortuoft_djvu.txt  


Lope de Vega. Comedias: El remedio en la desdicha; El major alcalde, el rey. http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/28408


Calderon de la Barca.  La Vida Es SueƱo. https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2587/2587-h/2587-h.htm 

Garcilaso de la Vega. The works of Garcilaso de la Vega. http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/49410 

Montaigne, Michel.  Essays. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/3600/3600-h/3600-h.htm 

Shakespeare, William. The Tempest. http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/2235 

Petrarch. Sonnets. Triumphs and other Poems. http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/17650 

Sir Philip Sidney. Astrophel and Stella. https://archive.org/details/sirpshisastroph00sidngoog 


-- Susan Smith Nash, Ph.D.
Susan Smith Nash, Ph.D.


 




  


Immersive History Takes You to the Plague of Athens: Interview with Spencer Striker, History Adventures

Spencer Striker is determined to make history come alive, and to put learners in the middle of scenarios that let them role play in ways that relate to their lives in ways they never imagined possible. The latest addition is "Global Pandemics: Plague of Athens," which plunges learners in the middle of a mysterious pandemic that occured in Ancient Greece. 


Dr. Striker, who is a Digital Media Design professor at Northwestern University in Qatar, earned his Ph.D. in Digital Media from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.  

Here is an interview from May 13, 2022 about Global Pandemics.  https://youtu.be/o-oTOO2ahSg



At Life Edge, we had the privilege of interviewing Spencer in 2020 over his series featuring revolutions in history in History Adventures. Here is a link to the show: https://youtu.be/S5BNBD9INTk 

Spencer Striker on E-Learn Chat in 2020

Welcome to an interview with Spencer Striker, Ph.D., along with links to demos. 

1. Is the Global Pandemics  game ready now? 

Yes, absolutely! You can find the fully interactive web app available here: https://pandemics.historyadventures.app/

(It’s built for a desktop or laptop running in the Chrome browser, i.e. Chromebooks)

Please also find the full gameplay demo here on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZ-HVOJvqSs&t=7s 

Also, please find a full Media Kit of product screenshots here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1YL0fFQBSErBGqYXVueXuKQ_gCdWXSCRj?usp=sharing 

2. How much does it cost? 

It’s absolutely free!

3. What do people think was the main thing that caused the plague? Was it something unique, or was it a massive cholera outbreak or something like that? 

To this day, historians are not certain what was the cause of the Plague of Athens. In the product, we challenge students to think like historians/epidemiologists and examine the possible causes in a feature we call: What Was It? Please see the attached screenshot as a reference! The possible suspects include: smallpox, bubonic plague, ebola, typhus, and typhoid.

4.  Can students interact with the vectors? (for example, with rats and fleas? a first-person shooter game to kill the rats?  or run from the fleas in a maze?)

We have many amazing interactive features built into Global Pandemics: Plague of Athens. Please find a list here!

  • 3D Motion Design to Recreate History
  • Advanced Web Animation to Simulate Pathogens
  • Immersive 360 Panoramas of Historical Locations
  • Animated Historical Timeline & Maps
  • Choice-based Narrative Design
  • Interactive Original Historical Documents
  • Media-Rich Adaptive Assessments

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Moldy Strawberries by Caio Fernando Abreu: Dangerous Self-Knowledge

Abreu, Caio Fernando. Moldy Strawberries. Trans. from the Portuguese by Bruno Dantas Lobato.  Brooklyn, NY: Archipelago Press. 2022. 


Caio Fernando Abreu, or Caio F. (as he signed his letters and manuscripts), died in 1996, but was most active in the 70s and 80s, when he first wrote the highly taboo and scandalizing stories.  The stories in this collection, first published in the 1970s and 80s, feel as though they were written yesterday. The descriptions are visceral and unsettling - almost as though one were a large brass cymbal or a gong hanging from cords that continues to vibrate long after being struck with a wooden mallet. His body is your body, and your body is lost somewhere in the collective consciousness of the stories, where desire is mixed with shame, confusion, Dionysian abandon fueled by a seething rage for connection. 



 

Some of the stories, such as “The Survivors,” are experimental in form. "The Survivors" is a 7-page single stream-of-consciousness paragraph that blends art, music, philosophical and psychological ideas with the memories of a relationship that may have just ended (the narrator isn’t sure). What is left is “saudade” - the deep, melancholic longing so characteristic of Brazilian music and literature. I’m not sure which story was the most unsettling, but the one that first comes to mind is “Sergeant Garcia,” the story of a corrupt police officer who arrests adolescent boys and young men to physically and sexually assault, all the while maintaining a charade of hypermasculinity.


Caio F. died in 1996 of AIDS in a Brazil deeply conflicted about homosexuality.  His impact on literature was profound, with the sense of a hand-held movie camera, with jerky quick cuts, somewhere between cinema verite and a tone poem. The collection of short stories opens with a sense of sambas and saudade and ends with classical suite (“Moldy Strawberries” with the sections, Prelude, Allegro Agitado, Adagio Sostenuto, Andante Ostinato, and Minuet and Rondo), that begins with the taste of fruit going bad, but ends with a reflection on the possibility of growing strawberries in one’s own garden. The ending is life-affirming, which is a relief, because through the stories, the reader experienced harrowing encounters in a world that denies gay sexuality, and in doing so, creates cruelty, hypocrisy and obsession.


-- Susan Smith Nash, Ph.D.

 

Susan Smith Nash, Ph.D.


 

Friday, April 22, 2022

Saadat Hasan Manto's The Dog of Tithwal: Precarious Lives during the India-Pakistan Partition Years

Saadat Hasan Manto. The Dog of Tithwal. Translated from the Urdu by Khalid Hasan, Aatish Taseer, and Muhammad Umar Memon. Introduction by Vijay Seshadri. Brooklyn, NY:  Archipelago Press. 2021.


Sadat Hasan Manto (1912-1955) was born in British India and when India was partitioned into Pakistan, he, as a Muslim, had to move to Lahore, Pakistan. It was in Pakistan that he began to produce the vast number of stories, radio plays, and essays that made him a formidable influence in Urdu-language writing. Manto’s life and times were shaped by conflict, disruption, and confusion as Kafka-esque political absurdities erected boundaries and divisions between previously happy cohabitants of a beautiful land. 



The story that is also the name of the collection of short stories, “The Dog of Tithwal,” perfectly illustrates the tragic absurdity of a politically engineered clash between the Hindus and the Muslims. They take up arms against each other and decide to fight on the border.  However, no one really has the heart to fight; it’s a political imperative imposed from on high. In the No Man’s Land between the two sides is a rag-tag, importunate dog who is regularly fed by both sides, and both consider the dog to be of their nationality. The dog survives, somehow, in this existential limbo until one day (spoiler alert), he is killed.  The dog perfectly embodies the capricious nature of fate, and the razor-thin margin of safety that keeps people and dogs alive.  

That razor-thin margin between life and death is also apparent in “Ten Rupees,” in which a mother faces the terrible consequences of having sold her young daughter into prostitution. In “Kingdom’s End,” an educated man occupies an office and yet does not seem to have any work to speak of. He falls in love with a voice on the telephone that started out as a wrong number. The precarious nature of his life is perfectly illustrated as he falls ill with a high fever just before he is to meet her. In “The Monkeys Revolt,” monkeys attack the insulting idea that humans, whom they consider to be quite beneath them, “evolved” from them. 

Other stories in the collection are likewise intelligent, sympathetic, and they unflinchingly face life in a world with few safety nets but with many ideas about the nature of survival, both physical and intellectual. 

-- Susan Smith Nash, Ph.D.

 

Susan Smith Nash, Ph.D.


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