Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Fret dips into No-Fear Shakespeare

Oh, sweet Jesus. One of my students recommended a "study aid" called No-Fear Shakespeare to the class. It's a sort of facing-page "translation" of Shakespeare into modern English. (Yes, I know Shakespeare is already in modern English.) I said very quickly that I didn't endorse the recommendation, but I felt like I owed them a fuller explanation of why not, so I've been poking around on the NFS web site for examples of lines that lose a great deal in translation. For your delectation, here are some of my favorites so far.

How now, my lord of Worcester?

"Hello there, my lord of Worcester!"

And when I told thee he was of my counsel
Of my whole course of wooing, thou cried’st “Indeed?”

"And when I told you he was involved the whole time I was trying to get Desdemona, you were like, 'Oh, really?'"

The Myrmidons are no bottle-ale houses.

"Great warriors aren't mom-and-pop diners, you know."

Let our catch be 'Thou Knave'.

"Let's dance to 'You Jerk'."

Malvolio's a Peg-a-Ramsey.

"Malvolio's Little Bo-Peep."

They need a new name, though. I am very afraid.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

New Year's Eve; or, Have I Really Been Doing This For a Decade?

One of these days I should really post about something substantive. But for now, to mark the eve of a new semester and the approaching ten-year anniversary of my first-ever class (holy crap, ten years of freshman comp!), here are some more bits and pieces from old journals. Grad school edition, this time.

My first day in the classroom:

I can't match any names with faces, I feel like I blathered far too much w/o saying what I really wanted to, a couple of the students seem to be tough customers, and I haven't a clue what we're doing on Friday. Just a normal day, I guess...

Oh, and of course when I asked them to pair off & introduce each other, the guy who can't pronounce his R's ended up introducing Wodewick, I mean Roderick. (Shades o' Life of Brian. Luckily this did not occur to me 'til later -- giggling helplessly would have been unseemly.)

Hee. I had forgotten about Wodewick. A week later:

Well, Monday went OK, but today -- whoo! I think I made a royal fool out of myself trying to explain how to do a cite for an ad w/ no title and a corporate author in a periodical (note to self: always get these things straight before class). Don't feel like recording the gory details. Also -- despite my best efforts class ended at 2:45 or so w/ me groping for more things to say. Yow...

... Got a new student today, a guy who plays the drums. I know this b/c he wrote "I play drums" on his index card in place of his phone number. Perhaps they're talking drums...

Teaching citation format, by the way, remains my downfall -- I never know what to say besides "Look in the freaking book, OK? That's what I do." And the flailing-to-fill-up-the-last-five-minutes feeling is still familiar, although nowadays I'll usually just dismiss them without apology.

On the other hand, I take comfort in the fact that never, in all the years since that first infamous semester, have I mistook a student for my boyfriend on the phone. Some lessons one only needs to learn once.

A few other snapshots from that first semester:

-- And let's face it, a B is average these days. I know [Freshman Shakespeare Prof] wouldn't approve, but I don't think I can crush youthful psyches with his brand of panache, not yet.

-- Must remind them that business letters do not customarily begin, "Hi, my name is R. J. Reynolds..." or "I bring you greetings."

-- Drank far too much at the reception last night (luckily most of the profs did too; I shall cherish the memory of [August Teutonic Goddess of Composition] wandering around the buffet table, stealing cheese.)

-- Got an e-mail from [a student] this morning -- a petition against the evil atheists who want "Touched by an Angel" cancelled! Sheesh. Perhaps I should cut my hair so the world can see my horns.

-- Another opening paragraph for the collection:

"'Attack and / or Armored' is a practical guide to finding you, your country, or your militia a suitable helicopter for your individuals needs. It strives to answer the question: Attack, armored, or attack and armored? A difficult question to answer in today's free world."

(Perhaps I should have been clearer on what I meant by "scholarly article.")

Needless to say, absolutely none of these things would surprise me if I encountered them nowadays. Except, perhaps, for the cheese-stealing Teutonic Goddess of Composition.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Still not dead...

... and I haven't abandoned this blog, either. It's just that I have not been in an academic headspace all summer, and thus haven't had much to blog about. (I did finish off the Shakespeare canon by reading Timon of Athens, though! Man, is that a weird play. I didn't like it very much, but I do want to see it in performance, preferably staged as a surrealistic black comedy. Also, I think Timon should fake his own death and then come out at the end to give everyone the finger, because the whole burying-himself thing makes NO SENSE otherwise.)

Right now, I'm doing some stuff for International Student Orientation and trying to get all the syllabi in order for next semester. I'm teaching almost the same set of classes as last semester, only with Late Shakespeare instead of Early Shakespeare, but it feels like everything needs to be changed. I have 23 students registered for remedial comp instead of 4, so it's going to be a totally different class, and I have to change freshman comp to a MWF schedule and Brit Lit II to a TR schedule instead of the other way around, and we can't read a novel in Brit Lit II because it got dropped in my lap last week when it was too late to order books, so I've been dipping into the Victorian fiction selections in the Norton, which are meager. I think we'll read "The Mortal Immortal," "The Old Nurse's Story," and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and have a sort of mini-unit on Tales of Horror and the Supernatural, which would be rather fun.

The Small Nephew, who has had some rather serious health issues for most of his seven months of life (one of the reasons why I have not been thinking much about academic stuff this summer at all), is doing well after his second round of surgery. It's going to be something he'll have to deal with for the rest of his life, but it is treatable, and even a generation ago it wouldn't have been. I've been thinking a lot about the Mary Jonsons and Hector Phillipses of previous generations, and all the kids whose names we don't know because they weren't related to poets, and I am awed by the level of fortitude it took to be a parent for most of human history. That is all.