Sunday, May 6, 2007

Notes to self re: teaching (OR: grading brings pedagogical enlightenment)

  • Tell students in medieval literature courses that "lord," whether capitalized or not, does not necessarily refer to God (Christian or otherwise).
  • Tell students in medieval and early modern classes over and over and over again that punctuation and capitalization are editorial, not authorial, and that they should not use these elements as the basis of their own interpretative arguments. Consider devoting a whole class to this.
  • Explain to all students what "editorial" and "authorial" mean in the above context.
  • Give detail in research paper instructions that the primary text which the student is writing about does NOT count as one of the works cited. Neither does the Merriam Webster Dictionary.
  • Talk in class about appropriate dictionaries for use in essays on Old, Middle, and Early Modern English.
  • Remind students that all that close reading and careful use of text to support arguments that I made them do in short assignment after short assignment also applies in the research paper.
  • And above all: remember to be patient.


Anonymous said...

Oh no! Quoting your earlier post about these papers:

"Yes, that's right: I'm actually looking forward to reading them. Say what??? Am I delusional? Overly optimistic? Idealistic? Will my dreams be crushed?"

I was looking forward to hearing about how great the papers turned out to be.

Dr. Virago said...

Emily -- I've only just gotten started on them, and so far there have been smart and interesting ones. Even the one that inspired this post was enthusiastic and brave in its insistance that "The Wife's Lament" couldn't possibly be pagan in origin, as some critics suggest, since she talks about her "lord" in the singular and therefore suggests monotheism.


Well, at least she was making an argument, and for that I am grateful!

Anyway, when I get through more of them, maybe I'll find that by and large they lived up to my expectations.

medieval woman said...

hee, hee, hee, hee...

I think all of your pre-emptive points are spot on!

Karl Steel said...

since she talks about her "lord" in the singular and therefore suggests monotheism

Oh no! The poor thing. It's so distressing to see an honest mistake kill a paper.

I'm reminded of one of my students whose research paper draft primarily comprised long quotations from the critics. She had an argument, but it was way back in the paper. I told her she needed to bring her argument forward, quote less, and paraphrase more. Thankfully before she turned in the final draft she gave me an edited paragraph to make sure she had paraphrased correctly. Er: no. She had just taken out the quotation marks!


A disaster averted.

So, I like your list, and I'd add, for my students, * mini workshop on paraphrasing.*


Dr. Virago said...

Karl -- I was pretty merciful on her, since so much of the paper rested on that one mistake. And next time I'm going to have students submit drafts and not just a proposal, or something close to it, so I can catch these things.

And I feel a compulsion to correct something I said in my last comment: not all of my bullet point apply to that one student's paper!

Sisyphus said...

On the bright side, you have laid the foundations (all the stuff building up to these points) for someone else to have a lot of fun teaching these students something beyond the basic "you should have some sort of point here." If that makes sense.

Anonymous said...

I had a student use definitions from the OED in her paper this semester, and I could have kissed her. No Webster's!!!

Horace said...

I want a stamp that says "OED" on it, I make that comment so often. But I'll take a print Webster's over any day.

Dr. Virago said...

Ooh! A stamp! Good idea!

And New Kid, kiss your student for me!