Tuesday, November 03, 2015


Sometimes, grading poorly written papers is just so dismaying.

This isn't to say that all the papers in the stack will be poorly written, but if you start with a few that are, it's dismaying.  (And now I'm all wanting to go look up the origins of "dismay" in the OED, because "maying" seems odd, unless it's something to do with the May celebrations?  Or allowing?  Did I mention that when I'm grading poorly written papers, I get easily distracted?  "Distracted" also looks like I need to look it up in the OED.  Something to do with "tract" as a space, perhaps.  Oh, shiny...)

I'm tired of students no remembering that they need to use quotation marks for article titles, and italics or underline for book and journal titles.  It doesn't seem like it should be that hard to remember, does it.  And for some reason, it bothers me.  I can deal with some typo/usage stuffs, and I know we're not supposed to focus on typo/usage stuffs in grading, because it doesn't actually work, but the titles thing bothers me.  It just does.

I'm tired of students making broad, unsupported claims about pieces of literature.  Did you know that Macbeth doesn't believe in violence, and only kills Duncan because Lady Macbeth shamed him.  Yeah, that whole unseaming bit at the beginning of the play, that's not at all violent.  Nope.

I may have to promise myself cookie dough if I just grade this bleeping pile.


  1. And now I want cookie dough.

    I totally get it. Why are the titles so hard to understand/remember? Or is it that the stus are so apathetic and/or pathetic that they can't be bothered? It makes me crazy too. :(

    Our medievalist is very near retirement. For simple MLA mistakes -- in all her classes -- she gives the students an F with a chance to revise. If they get the MLA stuff perfect the second time, she will grade it like normal. If not, the F stands. She gets terrible evaluations a lot of times, but I admire that she holds the line so firmly. (And of course, all this is outlined on her syllabus, but do they read it? Nah...)

  2. Ooh, I know the etymology for "distracted"! It's from trahere, literally dragged or pulled apart. (I think one of my undergrad Shakespeare profs made this point in relation to Hamlet's "this distracted globe" line; he's envisioning his head getting pulled into pieces.)

    And ... yeah. There are so many little things about student writing that drive me batty; some of them actually matter, like the broad, unsupported claims problem, but a lot of them are picky little stuff that bothers me more than it should, like the constant use of "Being that..." or "With X being..." instead of "because X is..." And possessives; how hard is it to remember that it's "Viola's speech," not "Viola speech"?

    1. Thanks, Fretful! That's fascinating!

      And "x is bias." I know it's that they don't hear/say the "ed" but it still bothers me.