Sunday, April 12, 2009

Get the Shmoop

No, that's not a typo.  Shmoop is the latest study guide site for students and teachers of literature, poetry, and history.  It's put out by professors and grad students at Stanford, Berkley, Harvard, Yale, and other ivy-draped halls of humanities. 

English teachers and students are bound to like it for its scholarly-yet-breezy take on literature. It's cheeky in a nice way, comparing Conrad's Heart of Darkness to Lucas' Star Wars rather than Coppola's Apocalypse Now.  No snobs to pulp, you'll find Shmoop tells it like it is on everything from Hamlet by Shakespeare to Twilight by who-it-that-wrote-that?

I find it's got more goods and easier to access than Sparknotes, and a great improvement over Cliff Notes.  For a free account sign up, you can also save your favorite bits of information, organized in folders. They boast that the information on the site is documented and cited, and they help students cite for MLA, APA, and Chicago styles.

One downside is ads appear in the margins of the site that some teachers might not approve of for their students.  At any rate, it can be a guilty pleasure for teachers to have a reference. Looking up Tennessee William's The Glass Menagerie for such things as "Brain Snacks" (interesting trivia and allusions), pictures of playwright and performances, lists of literary devices (with examples), and 27 quotes on "Memory." 

Williams might agree that Shmoop is one of those "long-delayed but always expected something that we live for."