Thursday, November 11, 2010


I have cramps. They are annoying. They are especially annoying in that I have had cramps for five days now --- the usual, mild ones I get --- and only now have they become heinously obnoxious.

What is this, body --- you have decided to interpret the "p" of PMS as "post"? Don't do this to me, you schmuck!

In other news, I gave up grading way before my quota today, which is why I am posting here instead. I am so behind in my grading, so behind. And exhausted. And it's not going to get any better in the near future.

And I have read about 6 of the lit papers and they are meh. They are clear, they are on topic, they pretty much have an argument, but ---- the prompt I am reading asked how this author used a certain literary effect to create a specific character, and none of them have really addressed the how, the literary aspect of this question. You know, the whole point of the course. They are in there, inside the text, making judgments about whether the character is Very Very Bad or Very Very Good. Or maybe they are looking in through a clean clear glass window, and they are forgetting that someone is actually controlling and setting up what they can and can't see in this peepshow. (And that it's not a clear window at all! It's scratched up colored glass --- it should be obvious that they are not seeing the "reality" of what is going on.) Meh. (Oh, and one didn't even quote the text once, which is silly given that our first paper was a demonstration of using a bunch of quotes for a close reading.)

So I don't know whether I'm going to say that type of answer is in the B range or the C range. I'm penciling in letters at the moment and will keep going and figure out if these are the strong or the weak papers in the batch. At one point in my career I would have said that a simple summary of a text that doesn't get at how it is put together was a failing paper, but since then I have realized the importance of rewarding clarity at least. There are going to be papers that are much worse in that pile.

You know? It's funny, but I like the socializing aspect of froshcomp. I like working with freshmen and teaching writing. It is actually easier for me to teach nonliterary texts in a comp class, because I don't care if the students hate them or butcher them, than deal with graduating seniors who cannot connect with literature in any way and who spout off about how crappy it is in a lit class. I like teaching. Teaching literature, actually, I could take or leave.


Fie upon this quiet life! said...

You'll be happy to know that those cramps feel just like the beginning stages of labor. The only difference is that when you're in labor, the cramps have a point! Blerg on pointless cramps! F them.

word verification: nogos. Ha.

Dr. Virago said...

Oh, getting them to get to the "how" is the hardest task there is. It's what I live for. The phrase I rely on over and over and get students to repeat like a mantra is "words on a page," as in: "Characters are not real; they are merely words on a page."

And FWIW, I give a clear, well-written, well-supported "so-and-so is a bad/good person" essays a B.