Friday, December 02, 2016

This is Why I do Draft Days

On Monday, my upper level Shakespeare class will work on peer revising rough drafts of their semester projects.  They have to turn in a draft of their project to their peer revision group on Sunday afternoon, and then have to come in Monday with print outs of the other peers' projects, with notes and such written, so that they spend Monday's class period in useful discussion.

Then they get a week to revise before turning in the final project.

There are several options for the project, the most intellectually difficult of which is to write a traditional lit crit paper.

So naturally, at the end of class today, when we'd discussed draft day stuff a bit more, one of the weaker students in the class came to ask if I have open office hours today.  (I don't.  I pretty much have job related stuff to do until 7 or 7:30 pm today.  Happy Friday.)  Then she asked if she could email me a question, and I asked her what the question was.

And she said that she's having difficulty writing her lit crit paper.  So I asked her what her argument is.

And she said, and I did you not, "I want to write about women in Shakespeare."  You might well be proud of me that I didn't burst out in laughter or in tears. 

She doesn't have an argument yet.  So I suggested she start by thinking about a specific play to make an argument about, and reread it, and think about what she might want to say about the play.  For previous assignments, she's read some criticism, so I suggested that she might go back and think about where she disagrees with a critic or thinks a critic's argument misses something important, and that would form a starting point for her paper.

The good thing is, if she starts working intently today, and works hard through Sunday to do something to turn in, and then has a whole week to work hard, the paper will be a while lot better than it would be if she'd waited until next Friday to begin working, right?

I live a rich and full fantasy life.  My students are going to be working hard this weekend to get a draft of this paper done.  Better that than starting next week!


  1. Good thing no one in the history of the universe has ever written about "women in Shakespeare."

    I'm doing something similar in a class next week and I have a student who is going to come up with something equally hopeless. I just don't know yet what it will be. Could be "themes in novels." What am I supposed to do with that?

  2. richard12:06 PM

    If it's any consolation, I get this all the time in my discipline (musicology & ethnomusicology), or something very similar, like "music in Africa" or "gender in popular music." And this is from graduate students....

  3. I have had grad students come to me saying they want to write their dissertation on [insert name of country], what primary sources should they use?

  4. Tuesday my students were giving presentations on their research papers. At least two students changed topics on Monday or Tuesday. Ouch. On the other hand, several students were well ahead of the game, and had already added entries to wikipedia on women!