Sunday, March 17, 2013

Encomium of Composition Faculty

There but for the grace of [deity/ordering concept of choice] go I.

I am on batch #3 of written assignments, just little three/four-page essays that should implement a basic approach in my home discipline of History and Theory of Small Rodent Material Culture. I simply want 'real' essays, with, like, a point (thesis) that is hopefully made clear (in something like a statement) in a nice first paragraph (introduction) with some sort of flow and structure and transitions and a conclusion that concludes that shit. An essay, you know? Grading these is like. . . Ugh. I'd seriously rather go to the dentist for a root canal. This is by far my least favorite aspect of my job (especially with the "But this isn't an English class!" that follows. Oh? What language are you and I speaking in here? (when I say it in my head  sounds like Samuel L. Jackson, but in reality it sounds like Yoda). I mean, if I could ditch this requirement for them, I would. But the dears DO need the practice before being trainwrecks in upper div courses.

Anyway! My point!

I. Can. Not. IMAGINE! dealing with student composition as my number one thing. I know we do our exasperated, "My God, what are they teaching you over in English 100?!", but, seriously. Ya'll are saints.

Did you have any idea what you were in for? Were you planning to teach Middle English epic poetry or Victorian Lit and seminars on Wilkie or late medieval women's mystic literature? Were you in love with Rossetti and the PRB, or did you want the freedom to publish your experimental concrete poetry, or did you think that interacting with the Youth would inspire verisimilitude in your novels and your scripts, and this fell on you, dreams slowly crushed to bits over a sequence of MLA interviews, but at least it pays the bills, kinda? Or are you really that philanthropic?

In any case, a Pádraig's toast in appreciation and sympathy to the English Comp martyrs. Here's to the Comp instructors! May you be in heaven for a full half hour before the devil knows you're dead, and may you be on spring break for a full half week before the department chair knows you've left the office.

7 comments:

  1. Amen Lemurpants! Cheers to the English profs!

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    1. A-a-a-men, A-a-a-men, A-a-men, A-men, A-men!

      One lousy batch of essays I assign, in two drafts, per year. And I always want to poke out my eyes by the time I'm done grading them.

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  2. So I'm missing some subtext (or maybe not?). Are you implying that all comp profs only teach comp because they have failed to achieve their dreams of literary/writing genius, and therefore, have nothing left but to teach comp?

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    1. P.S. I'm off to now weep into a glass of Stoli.

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    2. No, there was a "or are you philanthropic" option. Which. . . I can't imagine being that good of a person, but, hey, some people do social work and child care and all sorts of other things I couldn't do.

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  3. I did comp 101 for a year and promptly fled. I implore my colleagues, who invariably have very little clue what actually goes on in these basic academic writing classes, to be as kind as possible to those who do this job, because it is by far the most difficult on campus. (And it's only made more difficult here by a laughably incompetent management hierarchy, but that's the stuff of a different kind of post.)

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  4. I have applied to teach an Intro to Comm course this summer. I have grandiose visions of teaching the little cherubs how to go about writing a critical paper.

    A voice in the back of my mind is telling me to be happy if they at least remember Purdue's OWL website!

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