Tuesday, September 16, 2008

end-of-the-beginning-of-the-semester blahs

Brain feels fuzzy. I think grading 43 freshman comp essays has a bad effect on the intellect. I have been watching, in bits and pieces, the BBC first tetralogy as a reward for grading the essays, but tonight I'm too tired. Actually, the Henry VI plays work quite well as a soap opera, and I think it would be cool if someone remade them as one.

The essays were almost universally blah with two or three bright spots, all of them from the morning class. No really hilariously, head-clearingly bad ones, but most of them not very good. On Monday, I will receive 43 more drafts; on Tuesday, I have an insane number of conferences, like 21 or so. Oh yeah, and I will be teaching Titus Andronicus for the first time (though not, obviously, in freshman comp). Help.

So despite being a first-year faculty member, apparently I'm sorta-chair of this not-quite-committee thing. I'm not sure how I feel about that. I suppose it will look good in the tenure file, but I'm at the point where I feel like my head will explode if I even think about the tenure file. Anyway, I have been writing up a draft proposal describing what the not-quite-committee will do, which is rather challenging since I haven't worked out what not-quite-committees do in general, but at least it's only a draft. Right?

Is it fall break yet? I need it to be fall break. I think my students need it to be fall break; five weeks into the semester, the novelty has worn off, and the freshmen are hitting the grousing-chattering-heads-down-on-desks stage. Hell, I feel like having my head down on the desk sometimes. I was having one of my periodic fits of anxiety about the whole grading-and-credentials system, so I asked the afternoon class today how they would handle matters if they could be in charge of the university. The only answer that I got was "No offense, Ms. Porpentine, but I wouldn't have any English classes. [Pause.] Or math. Or science." Well, I'm, um, glad that the math and science profs don't seem to be doing any better with the Student Engagement thing?

It has been cool and pleasant these last few days, cool enough to keep the door to the patio open in the evenings, only I hope the big slugs don't come in. Ew, slugs.

On that note, I think my brain has officially turned to mush. Good night.


Lea said...

The BBC first tetralogy is wonderful, isn't it? It starts out as very good, and gears up into AWESOME somewhere in the middle of 2 Henry VI (probably right at the Cade rebellion).

I have felt for quite some time that if someone sliced up the histories into bite-sized chunks (like the BBC did when they aired Age of Kings in 1961) and did them as a well-budgeted cable miniseries that it would be a big hit: the success of a) The Tudors and b) the recent RSC history cycle suggest that there is an audience for this sort of thing beyond a small coterie of enthusiastic geeks, so I don't know why nobody's done it. Is it because it's Shakespeare? Or because there's no onstage sex?

Come to think of it, a DVD release of Age of Kings would also make me happy. I've wanted to see it for years.

Bardiac said...

I love teaching Titus! It's so over the top, it's fallen off the other side :)

Seriously, just when you think it can't get worse, it does, and then does some more. Besides, you can teach it as a cooking class, right?

Do you want to brainstorm some teaching ideas?

Fretful Porpentine said...

Lea -- I haven't gotten to Cade's rebellion yet; I think I stopped right after Simcox and his wife on Monday. Good to know that it's well done! I shall use it to reward myself during conference week.

Bardiac -- Yes, I think Titus very much needs to be taught as a cooking class. Hee!

Lea said...

Cade's rebellion is fantastic -- Trevor Peacock, who also played Talbot, returns as Cade, and he is SCARY. I love it.

Also, the rebellion leaves its mark on the set, and that is cool. I think Jane Howell's decision to just assume they're filming a stage production and run with it works really, really well.

Hannah Kilpatrick said...

You could always just start out by giving them the story of Philomela / Tereus / Proicne to read and then say "Hah, you think THAT'S a nasty story? Wait until you see what SHAKESPEARE does with it..."

You can just see him sitting at his desk scribbling. "Raped by ONE MAN? Nah, been done. TWO MEN, yeah, that'll do it, and they don't just rip out her tongue, get this, they THINK of the whole writing/weaving the names business and CUT OFF HER HANDS too, yeah! And they can't just get fed to their dad, that's not shocking enough, they gotta get fed to their MUM. Hah, Ovid should so have had me on his consulting crew!"

Fretful Porpentine said...

Ooh, good idea, I definitely need to give them some Ovid :)

Anonymous said...

Titus Andronicus as a cooking show...check it out


Reduced Shakespeare Company rules!

Fretful Porpentine said...

You know, I actually used that Reduced Shakespeare bit for the epigraph to one of my undergraduate papers :) I'm very grateful to Freshman Shakespeare Prof for not giving me the smackdown I probably deserved.