Monday, May 07, 2007


I'm in grading hell right now. My hell is all the worse for things I didn't say this semester, but which I guess I should have said. What didn't I tell students that I should have?

Number your pages. (Yes, really, if your paper's several pages long, you should number your pages.)

Cite your text. (Yes, you need to cite your Shakespeare edition. Really. Other texts, too. No, copying the computer print out from the computerized index isn't the same as citing your text.)

Come up with a good title. (No, "Essay #2" is not a good title. All's Well that Ends Well IS a good title, but it's already been used, so you need to think of something else.)

Paraphrasing is not analysis.

When you summarize someone else's argument, you actually need to figure out what the thesis is and explain it.

Don't treat your thesis as a punch line, holding it until the very end when we're supposed to ooh and ah or laugh. Seriously, in most academic writing, your reader wants to know what you're arguing about fairly quickly.

When I ask you not to slide your late paper under my office door, surprisingly, I actually mean I don't want to step on your paper and slip as I try to enter my office with arms full of books and assignments.


I am going to do something I very much don't want to do this evening. I expect it will be painful. But I will do it. I'd like to say I'm doing it for good ethical reasons. I'd like to say I'm doing because I'm a good and caring person. I'd also like to say that I'm fabulously good looking, totally fit and trim, and caught up on my grading.

What I will say is that I've made some progress grading today, and that I'm going to do this because doing it will be less likely to cause someone hurt feelings than not doing it.


There is not enough bourbon. And I'm unlikely to make it to the store before the stupid plastic chains go up to indicate that they can't (and won't) sell me any more.


The word "said" looks totally wrong, awkward and misspelt, unless we're talking about Edward Said, and then it looks fine. Why is it that the most familiar words look wrong when I think about them? The great tragedy of my orthographic life is that I don't live in the fourteenth century. Of course, I wouldn't have survived long enough to learn to talk (much less spell) in the fourteenth century (go go antibiotics!), but at least I wouldn't have had to grade!


  1. The word "said" looks totally wrong, awkward and misspelt, unless we're talking about Edward Said, and then it looks fine.

    You know, when I was an idiot undergrad, I pronounced Said like the English verb, and I did so in front of more than one professor. Oh god, why didn't the first one correct me! The horror!

    Meanwhile, in my grading hell, I'm also kicking myself for things unsaid. I feel your pain.

  2. True story: in the process of moving to a new office, a colleague found a student paper that had been slipped under the door and ended up stuck under the rug....for seven years.

  3. Oh, this was a funny post.

    And I feel like I want to print it out and save it so that I can remember to tell my students all those very important things, too!

    Oh goodness, I'm sorry the bourbon ran out...

  4. "Why is it that the most familiar words look wrong when I think about them?"

    I know! I kid you not, I once got stuck on "of" - it just didn't look right. Evidently, I also needed that bourbon.

  5. This is really funny. I too have been thinking about words that look wrong. Like "eighth."

  6. I feel that way about "Wednesday" - when I spell it, I have to say it like it's spelled.

    And I'm totally using that "Don't treat your thesis statement as a punchline"! I'll cite you properly, of course...

  7. Dr. V, I think we've all had our share of pronunciation mistakes. At any rate, I have.

    Bev, I found one that got crumpled behind the door at the end of the semester once.

    Hilaire, Thankfully, it hadn't already run out! There is a FSM!

    PhD Me, "Of" gets me, too. And students spell "have" as "of" anyways, right?

    Kermit, "eighth" is unspellable. No question!

    Medieval Woman, alas, the punch line thing isn't original with me. But in the spirit of Shakespeare and such, feel free to steal it and make it yours!

  8. Bardiac, I could swear that you're grading my students' papers right now. We'd be happy with such little things--like page numbers.

    There is not enough bourbon.

  9. Having just recently exited grading hell, I still smell a little like fire and brimstone. As I mentioned in another friend's blog -- Next year, I'm going to tell my students that every time they misuse an apostrophe, God kills a puppy.

    Bourbon is a good bevvy to grade by ... perhaps I should give it a go ... Evenings of single malt scotch just didn't seem to do it this time around :oP.

    What's the news on the bike front? I just got back from a few days visiting friends in Manhattan, and I'm itching for a ride ... I found myself ogling bike couriers, not for their chiseled legs, but for their rides!


  10. Undine, So THAT'S where all the piles of papers came from!

    Amanda, I went 25 miles at just over 15mph today, and my legs are a little tuckered (not bad). I stopped by the lbs and it's going to be 10-14 days still on my bike. BUT, I got to ride a 1.2 in the size I want and wsd model, and it felt good, so now I'm even MORE excited! How's your riding going?