Reading for Culture with Emma 2023: The Articles & Questions

This Fall, Professor Emma Gorst will lead us to read articles from recent magazines, newspapers, or creditable online resources and facilitate discussions on social and/or cultural topics of interest.

Free English online lectures brought to you by the East and West Learning Connections (translation transcripts of other languages available).

Time: Every first Wednesday from 7:30 to 9 P.M. Eastern Time
Dates: October 4, November 15 and December 6, 2023

Zoom registration link:

Lecturer Profile

Emma Gorst obtained her Ph.D. in Medieval and early modern English literature from University of Toronto. Before that, she copy-edited textbooks for Pearson and worked in online marketing at Random House. She did her postdoc at Yale University in 2013-2014. Emma is teaching university and college writing at Seneca, and tutoring young readers in her spare time.
For more details about Emma, please visit

For inquiries, please email us at Everyone is welcome!

Please see each month’s topics and readings below – we will update the list from month to month.

December 6


The issue to be discussed: History of Englishes


English emerged from the fusion of many languages in the High Middle Ages. For a period, England was multilingual; over the centuries, there developed many dialects within England and beyond. What are Old English, Middle English, Early Modern English, and Modern English? How did spelling and vowel sounds evolve? What did dictionaries do to English? What changes are happening now in the English language? How and why do people try to stop language change from happening?




Visual History of the English language

David Crystal – Spelling it Out

David Crystal – Pronunciation Complaints

David Crystal – How Were the Small words in English Created


November 15

The issue to be discussed: Gender differences in English 

Deborah Tannen has researched differences in women’s talk since the 1970s. What does her research say about differences in the way people in North America talk, depending on their gender role?


1)    The Power of Talk: Who Gets Heard and Why by Deborah Tannen from the Magazine  (September–October 1995) 


2) Opinion | It’s Not Interrupting. It’s Cooperative Overlapping – The New York Times by Deborah Tannen


October 4

The issue to be discussed: What is causing the “housing crisis” in Ontario?

[Photo: Celina Gallardo, Unsplash]


Members can read one or more of the articles below and consider the discussion questions that follow:


Ricardo Tranjan –

Angela Hennessy –

Lucas Powers –

Statistics Canada –


Discussion questions

Ricardo Tranjan –

1 – Who are the “large sections of the population” who “don’t want to fix” the “housing crisis” according to Tranjan? Do you agree that they don’t want to fix it?

2 – 1950, 1969, and 1980 – What do you know about these years in Canada? What kinds of economic pressures or situations existed in each different decade?

3 – Do you think the landlord-tenant situation in Canada is exploitative, on the whole? The writer says, “This is legal and accepted, which doesn’t mean it’s not expoitation”  – meaning that he thinks exploitation of tenants is legal. (What is the difference between exploitation and profit…?)

4 – Ricardo Tranjan suggests that COVID-19 was an opportunity for landlords to evict tenants.  Do you think it was?

Angela Hennessy

5 – What does Angela Hennessy’s article suggest about COVID-19’s effect on the Landlord-Tenant-Bureau system?

6 – If you were to advise someone on becoming a landlord in Toronto, what would you say to them? Why?

7 – If the LTB is “broken” which aspect of government is to blame? Why doesn’t the government put any resources towards fixing it, in your opinion? (For more information about the ombudsman report, read this article from May 2023)

8 – What do you know of rental systems in other countries? would you make any recommendations to the government here?


9 – What kind of things can the government do to help either landlords or tenants? Link your reply to comments made in one of the articles we read.


10 – Please feel free to draw on your own experiences in Toronto or elsewhere. Do your own experiences match up with what is said in one or more of these articles?


11 – Regarding the Statistics Canada material, are there any statistics that stand out to you? If so, why do you find them interesting? 

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