Monday, June 30, 2008

man, these three-hour classes are rough on the throat...

Owwwww. I bought throat drops on the way home, but they didn't seem to do much good. What I need to do is get the students to do most of the talking, but it is a small group (7 students), and most of them are shy. Should do more paired / small group stuff, I guess.

At least there will be no more Beowulf after today. I don't know why, but I don't like teaching Beowulf. Part of it, I think, is that it's one of those books that are firmly in my Discomfort Zone: texts that I know just enough about to be all too aware of everything I don't know. I like teaching Shakespeare. I know lots of stuff about Shakespeare. I'm OK with teaching Ibsen, because I know next to nothing about Ibsen; I can just deal with the words on the page, which is all you really need to deal with in a gen ed course, and not worry about what the critics are saying or the complexities of nineteenth-century Norwegian society. And the students and I get to figure it all out together, which is cool. Stuff in between, though? Discomfort zone.

Next up are the troubadour poets, who are firmly in the Ibsen category as far as I'm concerned. I'm looking forward to it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Am in Parentland. The drive here took two days, with a detour to see my first cave and another one to see the house where my grandfather grew up. I have another eight-hour drive to look forward to tomorrow, but since the endpoint is the beach, I can't complain.

Went to Adjunct U. today to get the lay of the land. There sure are a lot of statues of the Virgin Mary there, as well as crosses on top of buildings, but maybe that isn't a bad sort of ambience for a medieval lit class.

In lieu of actually planning the first day of class, I have been engaging in the perfectly legitimate pedagogical tactic of collecting vaguely relevant YouTube videos. Here, have an animated intro to the Canterbury Tales. It's cute, although I'm not so sure about the music. Also, claymation Dante and Lego Beowulf.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

for the curious...

The one unguessed work from Thursday's game (#12) is Patriot Games. I'm not surprised nobody got it, since I'm told it doesn't take place in Florida at all. Or Flordia, even.

'Bye, folks. My dad and I are driving to Parentland. I'll be back when we get there.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A game...

Guess the work from the student's description of it on the exam! Information in these descriptions may or may not be accurate. 1-11 are reasonably canonical works by American, British, or European authors; 12 and 13 are works of popular fiction (in one case, a series rather than a book) that the students probably shouldn't have chosen (but at least neither one is Shrek or The Lion King, both of which spawned actual essays).

Have fun! And be warned, this is a little like reading inkblots.

1a) [Title] is a tragic story about ambition thats kills him because of that.

b) (same work, different essay) Basically a whole Frankenstein effect happened, her creating the beast that eventually led to her death. [Guessed by Anon II]

2) If "[assumed name of character] would have told the truth, he wouldn’t have to sacrifice his maiden in return for silence. [Guessed by Heu Mihi]

3) [Character] is on a quest for meaning while the accountant is on a chair. [Guessed by Anon I]

4) Having gone through three marriages and still wanting to pursue identity and happiness is a lot. [Guessed by Sisyphus]

5) a) [Character A] strives to show [Character B] that there is more to bla]ck people than black people being black. [Guessed by Heu Mihi]

b) (same work, different essay) However upon meetin [Characters A, C, and D]; and the journey, he encountered a Bulldogsroman.

6) The relationship of [Character A] and [Character B] is ex-marriage ... This turns the entire town against her in a rude, solitudal, and downcast manner. [Guessed by Kermitthefrog.]

7) In Hell, Satan is the big cheese. [Guessed by Neophyte]

8) [Title] is a comedy about a hopeless wanting to become the knight in shining amour ... Like any superhero [Title character] had a sidekick (and I’m not talking about the phone!) ... Although the brighter of the two, farmer guy has half a brain to live on. [Guessed by Anon I]

9) The relationship between [character] and her uncle started out – as in all Shakespeare’s tragic plays – in an a foreboding trail. [Guessed by Anon I]

10) No person has ever, or will ever, glorify a horse. [Guessed by Anon I]

11) [Character] as the role of a foil is even mentioned throughout literature in such things as a poem by Prufrock written in the 20th century. The main reason for his role is Shakespeares theory that all tragedies must have royalty. [Guessed by Kim Wells]

12) [Character A] and [Character B] have been teaching at the Navel Academy in Flordia ... After becoming angered and almost killing the reporter with his bear hands, [Character A] is almost on the verge of murder.

13) He is smart, charming, good-looking, classy, well-dressed, and resourceful, and ... he is always surrounded by minor characters who serve as foils until they are poisoned, exploded, or otherwise incapacitated. In order of attractiveness, these are... [Guessed by Sisyphus]

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Grading camp

Here I am at grading camp. It is the end of Day 3, and I've read about 360 essays so far, not counting the sample ones they use to make sure our internal grading scales are calibrated properly. This year the topic is about literary foils, or, as one student explained it, “In some novels the main character is befriended by someone of the opposite personality, creating a ‘good cop, bad cop’ type of unity.”

Lots and lots of essays about The Kite Runner, Frankenstein, Pride and Prejudice, Hamlet, Huckleberry Finn, The Great Gatsby, Don Quixote, Crime and Punishment ("Raskolnikov is a murderer, making it seem his morals are not good"), The Awakening ("This event completely throws Edna off her happy horse"), "1984 by Orson Wells," "the overexxagerated play ‘The Importance of Being Earnest,’ by Scott T. Fitzgerald," &c. One on Harry Potter, and one on a Russian play so obscure I had to Google it. (The one about the Russian play was rather good; the one about Harry Potter, not so much.)

And one kid wrote a poem instead of an essay. It was the only poem I've ever read that rhymed "thirteen" with "crack feen." I hope never to read another.

Four more days to go, with overtime pay since a bunch of people didn't show up. Yay, I think?