Sunday, February 7, 2016

My colleague...

...ran a week long assignment where students wrote an "analysis" of a primary text - either an online article from Rolling Stone or Salon.

The guideline was the analysis must be in the form of a 17 syllable haiku.

15% of the semester grade. ENG 255, Literary Analysis.

Eliot from Edmonton


  1. Replies
    1. Wasn't he the guy who justified Twitter as valid lit crit?

    2. For a certain range of values of "justified."

    3. It breaks my heart that
      Reading College Misery
      isn't scholarship.

    4. The mockery of
      “hybrid pedagogy” is
      Fully justified

  2. I'm trying to imagine
    the grading rubric...
    but I got nuttin'.

    1. I read the prompt then
      Your discussion board musing
      Now I write "Good post!"

    2. Each line is five points:
      First, can you count to seven?
      Can you count to five?

  3. I read "Moby Dick"
    It's a book about a whale
    I liked the ending.

    1. Orson made some film
      But I'd read the Cliff Notes first
      Rosebud was his sled.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. I can imagine a valid reason for having students in a class with that title write a literary and/or rhetorical analysis of a contemporary nonfiction text.

    I can also imagine a valid reason for having them write a haiku (or other creative work in a highly-structured -- or not -- form), though I'd probably add a requirement for some reflection on the experience.

    And I can imagine spending some in-class time on either, and assigning a substantial (but not enormous) grade weight to the assignment.

    But combining all of the above in a single assignment?

    Sorry; I, too, got nuttin'.

    1. This reminds me of when I was just a wee little guy. I was in third grade and reading Lemony Snickett and historical works by Garrett Mattingly (he's an amazing author and while I might be an exception, his historical works are written in language that children CAN understand them, but most probably just didn't care to). And I remember our teacher made us read these fucking books. I'll never forget them. The Magic Treehouse books. I don't think they had words over three syllables. Everyone else tore through these things like they were cocaine, but for me they were absolutely insufferable.

      Nothing HAPPENED in the books. These two stupid little kids would travel to cliched, often foreign and poorly depicted, places for NO apparent reason other than, well, the universe decided you should go there! And then when they got there they had to find a THING to go back. It usually had to begin with a certain letter. And sometimes they would find a thing that they THOUGHT was the thing and it began with the right letter, but it was actually a DIFFERENT thing that began with the same letter.

      Huge twist! Anyway. She made us read these books and draw cartoons about them. I couldn't finish them and even when I could, I hated drawing and asked if I could submit a book report instead. She said no. My parents, in a rare display of affection, eventually forced the principal to give me an IEP so I could read a completely different book and write reports.

      I wound up reading Walk Two Moons. One of my favorites to this day.

      My point was, I feel like if it's an analysis course (where you are not being charged with creating art or literature) then it's wrong to grade you on the production of such. You should be graded on analysis. If I attended a course about the statistical analysis of Basketball, I wouldn't expect to be graded on my ability to make three pointers.

      And I say this as someone who loves to write creatively. Mostly stories, but also some poetry. It's intellectually fulfilling, but it's not everyone's bag.

    2. OMG Treehouse. My 4-year-old offspring, Little Ruby, started enjoying these books at some point last year. It's like they could have been written with absolutely no knowledge of historical time periods, yet each one purports to teach about historical time periods. The pirate book includes peg legs, eye patches, parrots, and lines like "ye salty dogs." (To which the child protagonist replies, "Dogs are nicer than YOU!" Seriously. Cliched AND inane.)

      Oh, and each book has to begin with a recap of the previous books, so it's all like, "Remember the dinosaurs? Whatever-his-name-is smiled. He remembered when they had traveled to the time of the dinosaurs. Then his little sister held up a book with a picture of a cat. He smiled again. He remembered how they traveled to Ancient Egypt, and they found a cat...". Sweet Jesus. Four or five pages of this shit before you get to the plot.

    3. Plot? Lol. And I asked my mom about them. She remembers them. "Inane" is exactly the word she used. They are written in a way that one could believe the author had never met or, indeed, ever been a child or even a human being. One could be convinced that the author is a member of a bizarre, arabesque, alien race that reproduces asexually and whose offspring emerge from the womb/sac fully matured, fully clothed, and possessed of an ability to speak and write (poorly).

      Her name is Mary Pope Osborne because she was elected Shitty Writing Pope by the Conclave of Shitty Writing Cardinals. Belmonte's and Hemingway's ghosts attend ironically and scoff intermittently.

    4. Like most people my age, I missed the books until our son came of age. He read them at the appropriate ages, moved on, but left me with a deeply unfilfilled desire to find youth-oriented Japanese history literature in English that doesn't stink. I wrote about the two Japan stories here:

  6. Bad stuff at a frat,
    Except it didn't happen:
    Now a case study.

    1. Just for the record,
      I followed the assignment;
      I pick'd Rolling Stone.

    2. But the hidden aim
      Was instructor flattery.
      Thus, you scrape a “C”.

    3. You give me bad scores,
      I give you scathing evals,
      Say "hi" to the Dean.

    4. Nefarious child!
      Utter not these words to me.
      For I am the Dean.

    5. Are outside sources
      allowed? If not then
      methinks you lost a few points.

    6. Otherwise an A
      and EC1 gets extra
      credit for retort.

  7. Trustees think teaching
    is a business, but we think
    it's a break from booze.

    1. Upon reflection,
      It's not a break per se,
      It's the impetus.


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