Creating visualisations with infographics

If you want to create visualisations using free infographic apps, it’s really a matter of preference as to which you might choose, and you should probably play around with a few to see what appeals to you. The process of experimentation is valuable because it requires you to think about things like themes, character traits, etc. but also what it is you want to illustrate and how you might do it.  You have to think broadly at first, and then drill down to the details you want to use and how the arrangement of these details is most effective.

Ms Carroll shared with me ‘Ten free tools for creating infographics’ which is a great place to start. I started playing around with Canva to illustrate the theme of evil in poetry we’ve studied this year. I used a template because it was recommended for starters and uploaded an image from the blog as an alternative background to solid colour. Interesting that when I enlarge the image it is blurry in the blog draft but not in the published post.


I added a collection of websites/images/text/video on the theme of evil from our blog into Thinglink – it’s so easy!  I really like it but I guess it only works as an interactive web image, not as a poster.

Next I tried out Easelly. I exported my own photo as a background and tried out the text and objects. Text was easy, and I could drag and drop the objects (in this case: animals). And the selection is limited but still reasonable without signing up to pay $3 a month. I might create another one with more text and some charts.


Dipity is a timeline app which links to websites and videos; Piktochart looks nice too. Here’s someone who has tried both but really loves Canva. Judging by this person’s posters, I’ve jumped the gun by playing with Canva before taking the time to watch video tutorials. So I recommend you do just that – watch the tutorials to save time and frustration. This blogger also says that Piktochart also has a tool to make charts, maps and videos but she hasn’t tried them. Her post is worth reading although the comments that follow are not all positive. The thing is with apps – your experience may be different from others’ so try a couple, watch the video tutorials and have a go. I think there is enough choice amongst the free templates.

I tried Canva again to make a poster advertising Tea Duelling in the library next term. It’s not a great example but I liked the selection of text graphics which could make dot points more interesting. Again it looks blurry in the draft but not in the published post.


Venngage is another free app which seems to be good for charts with nice images/logos. I like the way it gives you clear descriptions for its options, eg under ‘infographics’ you can select ‘stastical, informational, process, comparison, timeline, geographic, charts and tutorial. It’s definitely worth a look.


Rosewater Ch 2: Eliot pulls a Hamlet

Eliot writes to Sylvia as though he is Hamlet and she is Ophelia from Shakespeare’s play. Research the play on the internet and comment on the use of this allusion by Vonnegut.  Watch this SparkNotes video to familiarise yourself with the plot.

What aspects of the play’s themes and characters are being referenced here in the story of Eliot and Sylvia?

Money, power and the American Dream

When Kurt Vonnegut wrote God Bless You, Mr Rosewater in 1965, he was writing about an America divided by wealth.  Then, CEOs made about 20 times as much as the average worker.  By 2011 CEOs made 231 times as much as the average worker. So what has happened since then?

Check out top property prices for Manhattan in recent times (see table below) and note the sale of one of the penthouses in 740 Park Avenue, the building with the most billionaires living in it in the US.


Built in 1929 by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’s grandfather, this building of 31 residences is one of the world’s most exclusive places to live.


So who lives here, at 740 Park Avenue, New York?  The answer is: not just anyone.  One has to apply to buy a residence and must demonstrate a liquid net worth of 100 million dollars to be considered by the co-op.

Watch the WhyPoverty documentary Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream to learn about how the wealth divide has deepened in America.  Find out how money talks in the halls of power in Washington and how the capacity for people born into extreme poverty to move out of their situation is now harder than ever…

There Will Be Blood quotations




You can also access my running notes which details the film, scene by scene, and captures some of the key dialogue.  Compiled in the dark while I watched the film, I can’t vouch for their typing accuracy but there should be a lot there for you to look through to jog your memories.


Click here to link to the IMDB page of quotations from ‘There Will Be Blood.’  There will be evidence here that you can use in your essays.


Porphyria’s Lover by Robert Browning

Munch, The Storm, 1893 

PORPHYRIA’S LOVER  by Robert Browning

The rain set early in tonight,
The sullen wind was soon awake,
It tore the elm-tops down for spite,
and did its worst to vex the lake:
I listened with heart fit to break.
When glided in Porphyria; straight
She shut the cold out and the storm,
And kneeled and made the cheerless grate
Blaze up, and all the cottage warm;
Which done, she rose, and from her form
Withdrew the dripping cloak and shawl,
And laid her soiled gloves by, untied
Her hat and let the damp hair fall,
And, last, she sat down by my side
And called me. When no voice replied,
She put my arm about her waist,
And made her smooth white shoulder bare,
And all her yellow hair displaced,
And, stooping, made my cheek lie there,
And spread, o’er all, her yellow hair,
Murmuring how she loved me–she
Too weak, for all her heart’s endeavor,
To set its struggling passion free
From pride, and vainer ties dissever,
And give herself to me forever.
But passion sometimes would prevail,
Nor could tonight’s gay feast restrain
A sudden thought of one so pale
For love of her, and all in vain:
So, she was come through wind and rain.
Be sure I looked up at her eyes
Happy and proud; at last I knew
Porphyria worshipped me: surprise
Made my heart swell, and still it grew
While I debated what to do.

(Image source)
That moment she was mine, mine, fair,
Perfectly pure and good: I found
A thing to do, and all her hair
In one long yellow string I wound
Three times her little throat around,
And strangled her. No pain felt she;
I am quite sure she felt no pain.
As a shut bud that holds a bee,
I warily opened her lids: again
Laughed the blue eyes without a stain.
And I untightened next the tress
About her neck; her cheek once more
Blushed bright beneath my burning kiss:
I propped her head up as before
Only, this time my shoulder bore
Her head, which droops upon it still:
The smiling rosy little head,
So glad it has its utmost will,
That all it scorned at once is fled,
And I, its love, am gained instead!
Porphyria’s love: she guessed not how
Her darling one wish would be heard.
And thus we sit together now,
And all night long we have not stirred,
And yet God has not said a word!

About the poem –

“Porphyria’s Lover” is one of the earliest of Robert Browning‘s dramatic monologues. The speaker of “Porphyria’s Lover” murders his girlfriend by strangling her with her hair, and then sits and admires the corpse for the rest of the night. The poem is from the point of view of a psychotic killer, which puts the reader in the uncomfortable position of reading the thoughts – or, if you’re reading the poem out loud, of giving voice to the thoughts – of a madman. This is just one reason that Browning’s monologues have received so much critical attention in recent decades.

Unfortunately for Robert Browning, though, most of his poetry was ignored during his life – his wife, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, was much more successful commercially. Ever heard of the sonnet “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…“? That’s Elizabeth Barrett Browning, writing about her love for her husband, Robert. During the Victorian period (i.e., during the reign of Queen Victoria in Great Britain, or 1837-1901), readers preferred poems like Barrett Browning’s – poems about love and beauty – rather than poems like Robert Browning’s, which probe the psychological depths of criminals and murderers. (Source: Shmoop)

In the Victorian Era, the standard hairstyle for middle and upper-class women was an up-do because hair was considered a symbol of women’s sexuality, and that being so, hair was only worn loose in private, which was considered proper.

About Robert Browning –

Browning was ultimately an optimist who believed that human love was the surest evidence of divine love and that knowledge of God could only be arrived at by intuition. Most of the poetry for which Browning is known today, however, is populated by villains whose inner lives are laid bare by Browning’s astute psychological insights; they are often people in whom love is missing. His villains are complex and interesting because they are victims of their uncontrolled desires, rather than embodiments of abstract vices.(Encyclopedia of British Writers, 1800 to the Present, Second Edition.)

Robert Browning was born on May 7, 1812, in Camberwell, England. His mother was an accomplished pianist and a devout evangelical Christian. His father, who worked as a bank clerk, was also an artist, scholar, antiquarian, and collector of books and pictures. His rare book collection of more than 6,000 volumes included works in Greek, Hebrew, Latin, French, Italian, and Spanish. Much of Browning’s education came from his well-read father. It is believed that he was already proficient at reading and writing by the age of five. A bright and anxious student, Browning learned Latin, Greek, and French by the time he was fourteen. From fourteen to sixteen he was educated at home, attended to by various tutors in music, drawing, dancing, and horsemanship. At the age of twelve he wrote a volume of Byronic verse entitledIncondita, which his parents attempted, unsuccessfully, to have published. In 1825, a cousin gave Browning a collection of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poetry; Browning was so taken with the book that he asked for the rest of Shelley’s works for his thirteenth birthday, and declared himself a vegetarian and an atheist in emulation of the poet. Despite this early passion, he apparently wrote no poems between the ages of thirteen and twenty. In 1828, Browning enrolled at the University of London, but he soon left, anxious to read and learn at his own pace. The random nature of his education later surfaced in his writing, leading to criticism of his poems’ obscurities. (Source:

Salome by Carol Ann Duffy

Salome and the Apparition of The Baptist’s Head. Watercolour by Gustave Moreau

Set in the modern society, and made contemporary Salome is a poem about a drunken woman who decapitates the heads of the men that she sleeps with.
This can be inferred from the title ‘salome’. Salome was a biblical character who turned insane after asking for a head on a platter from her step-father, the king. This historical context can help with the inference of the title and what the poem is about.
There are a references to biblical features throughout the poem ‘lamb turned to the slaughter’ (dehumanisation, of a sacrificial lamb)
The parable of the sheep and the goat. The sheep go to heaven and the goats go to hell. (Source)

Salome by Carol Ann Duffy


I’d done it before

(and doubtless I’ll do it again,

sooner or later) woke up with a head on the pillow beside me – whose? –

what did it matter?

Good-looking, of course, dark hair, rather matted;

the reddish beard several shades lighter;

with very deep lines around the eyes,

from pain, Id guess, maybe laughter;

and a beautiful crimson mouth that obviously knew

how to flatter …

which I kissed …

Colder than pewter.

Strange. What was his name? Peter?


Simon? Andrew? John? I knew I’d feel better

for tea, dry toast, no butter,

so rang for the maid.

And, indeed, her innocent clatter

of cups and plates,


her clearing of clutter,

her regional patter,

were just what needed –

hungover and wrecked as I was from a night on the batter.


Never again!

I needed to clean up my act,

get fitter,

cut out the booze and the fags and the sex.

Yes. And as for the latter,

it was time to turf out the blighter,

the beater or biter,

who’d come like a lamb to the slaughter

to Salome’s bed.


In the mirror, I saw my eyes glitter.

I flung back the sticky red sheets,

and there, like I said – and ain’t life a bitch –

was his head on a platter.

About Carol Ann Duffy

Poetry, above all, is a series of intense moments – its power is not in narrative. I’m not dealing with facts, I’m dealing with emotion.” Carol Ann Duffy

The first female, Scottish Poet Laureate in the role’s 400 year history, Carol Ann Duffy’s combination of tenderness and toughness, humour and lyricism, unconventional attitudes and conventional forms, has won her a very wide audience of readers and listeners.

Read her full biography here.

Watch an interview with Carol Ann Duffy.

See how controversial poets can be; Carol Ann Duffy declares God to be gay in her poem response to the Orlando massacre.


About Salome:

Salome (/səˈlm/;[1] Greek: Σαλώμη Salōmē, pronounced [salóːmeː]; c. AD 14 – between 62 and 71) was the daughter of Herod II and Herodias. She is infamous for demanding and receiving the head of John the Baptist, according to the New Testament.

Salome is often identified with the dancing woman from the New Testament (Mark 6:17-29 and Matthew 14:3-11, where, however, her name is not given). Christian traditions depict her as an icon of dangerous female seductiveness, notably in regard to the dance mentioned in the New Testament, which is thought to have had an erotic element to it, and in some later transformations it has further been iconized as the Dance of the Seven Veils. Other elements of Christian tradition concentrate on her lighthearted and cold foolishness that, according to the gospels, led to John the Baptist‘s death. (Mark 6:25-27; Matthew 14:8-11)

A similar motif was struck by Oscar Wilde in his Salome, in which she plays the role of femme fatale. This parallel representation of the Christian iconography, made even more memorable by Richard Strauss’ opera based on Wilde’s work, is as consistent with Josephus’ account as the traditional Christian depiction; however, according to the Romanized Jewish historian, Salome lived long enough to marry twice and raise several children. Few literary accounts elaborate the biographical data given by Josephus.

Read more on Wikipedia