Dispatches from Mt. Grademore

Wednesday,  May 11, 2011

The academic year is finally over.  Grades went in last week (late, very late), and now there's nothing to consider but my own research and next year's courses. (Eurgh.)  But before I let it go completely, let me share with you the highlights of this year's trek up Mt. Grademore:

  • April 15: My student just argued on a quiz that Prospero celebrates Miranda's engagement by 'organizing a costume party and beach volleyball extravaganza.' It's not so far off the mark. (While not being right at all.) And in response to the question about what Prospero promises his last destructive act on the island will be, the student answers, "If I remember correctly, he sets fire to a waste bin in the public bathhouse." If only this student would write anarcho-alternative versions of every Shakespearean play.

  • April 17Best misspelling from today's Mt. Grademore: "cow-towing" for "kowtowing." It's just not the same thing, is it?

  • April 20A student, asked on an exam to define "Verfremdungseffekt," replied: "To use my own words, I would describe this as an obnoxiously long word for a pretty cool term." I like how this answer manages to combine chiding with flattery in perfect measures.

  • April 24Bulletin from the slopes of Mt. Grademore on the subject of feminism (and the paradox of procreation): "The fact that she is unwed gives her an independent heir about her." *

  • April 28: Mt. Grademore attempts existentialism and ends up, naturally enough, in sterility: '“Waiting for Godot” by Samuel Beckett was written for people who blindly fallow.'

  • April 29I like to think of it like the Pilgrim's Progress. Mt. Grademore lies very near the Slough of Despond in my own allegorical topography.

  • May 4Mt. Grademore has been summited, but not before yielding it's best EVER nugget: "After reading the poem, one cannot help to get the feeling that mankind at that time was fondling with the breasts of trouble by engaging in behaviour that the Holy bible clearly reads as unlawful."

It soothes my soul to know that I am not alone in my battle with the Mount.

Dan: "Could have been witty. No husband means the bastard is the sole heir to her estate."

Me: "Not under 19th C Russian law, I'm thinking. This is about Chekhov's Three Sisters."

Dan: "Stupid Tzarist rule. It ruins all the good puns."

2 Responses so far.

  1. Ann says:

    So glad to see you back in the blogging world although goodness knows I do understand about the pressures of having to climb Mt Grademore. Do you not (on a good day) think that sometimes the students insert these comments simply to keep us stimulated through an other wise horrendous slog? Although I have to say that given some of the productions of 'The Tempest' I've seen, including one where Ariel appeared from inside a dead walrus, I wouldn't dismiss that first answer too lightly. Just because Shakespeare's bookholder didn't jot it down in the margin, doesn't mean it didn't happen.

  2. If they do insert them purposively, then bless them, one and all. I do think some of my favorites are intentional. Many's the time I've read a hilarious answer (on exams in particular) that in no way abutted correctness and thought, "I wish that I could figure out a way to give this 'bringing pleasure to the professor' points."

    Meanwhile, I know exactly the Ariel-walrus production you are talking about! A friend just told me about it this year. (Patrick Stewart was Prospero, right?) I told my students about it in class....

    (Sorry to be so belated in my reply, Annie. It's been a frantic few months!)

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