Friday, December 07, 2007

In which the end is in sight

St. Happy's in the books. UChaos has just turned in final essays, and grading is set to commence. This term was rough, and I'm so glad that the end is finally here. I'm a bit disappointed in my own performance this term; I feel like I just let go about halfway through. St. Happy took the brunt of my flailing, but the overall grade distribution came out acceptable, so I didn't drive us off the rails or anything. I did, however, not receive five (5!) final essays from that class, which is just inexplicable. I'm more astonished as a student than as an instructor; when I gave up on a class as an undergrad, I gave up. Just stopped acknowledging its existence. I don't understand showing up and doing the work through the term and then just bailing on the thing at the end that's worth nearly half of the final grade. Who does that?

UChaos came along a bit better, mostly because it was an all-new prep for me, which forced me to pay better attention and adjust as I went along. I think I managed the connections I was trying to make across the materials, but the final essays will be the proof of that one way or the other. I had forgotten, though, what different creatures first-years are. They're fascinating in their weird array of knowledge and ignorance. They know such obscure and fantastic things, and then turn around and call every bit of published text between two covers a "novel." They've exposed a number of my own blind spots (like, how is everyone in the world not enamored of the humanistic approach to text?), and I'm sure they'll be exposing even more next term. I'm really happy that I have another term with this bunch to expand on the work we've done so far and to patch up some of the mistakes I made with them this term.

Ok, and as for my own work. Not good. Or, rather, not happening. The word-count has not budged, because I have not yet opened a document and named it "Most-Famous Play and Second-Most-Famous Play Chapter." I'm reading toward it, but I haven't yet put words to it. There was a meeting with 2/3 of my committee before Thanksgiving in which we figured out what was producing the disastrous miscommunication that led to the Bad Thing that happened in October. It was useful, but I'm still shaping my rage into the constructive engine I need it to be.

I also need to submit an abstract for a conference-thing. Today. I think I'll be presenting on Most-Famous Play, but I'm feeling a bit wary of submitting such a thing to a conference of Big Willie bigwigs. Is it absolute folly to do so? Or are we all so over that play that now we can actually start doing things with it again?

(It also occurs to me that this wariness is a product of the Bad Thing. One of the greatest compliments I've ever received came indirectly from Persnickety Prof., who told Mr. Eph that I was "fearless." Which, although it may have meant "too obtuse to know better," I held as a badge of honor. And now... now I fear I may be fearful. God damn it.)

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