Tuesday, September 18, 2007


"Workshop and Exercise: Practice in textural criticism; choosing an edition of a text for your larger research project.
Project: Locate at least three separate 'witnesses' to a text you are studying. Look in the library for various editions, for example..."
-Assignment for my Research Methods class

Right. Now, this assignment assumes two things. One, it implies that everyone's doing a critical thesis. Two, it implies that the subject(s) of that thesis are works that have been around a while. So, if one is writing their thesis about Shakespeare, this assignment would fall perfectly in line. However, if one is writing their thesis about Sherman Alexie's latest novel, well, how does one find three "witnesses"/versions of a novel that only has one version published?

Not only are the creative thesis folk being... disadvantaged, so too are those who are writing about contemporary literature (or, how about those writing about composition theory, eh?). Going into this class, I wasn't sure what to expect. The further I get into it, the less I find myself motivated to put forth effort.

If I had put any thought into the assignment before yesterday, I should have contacted my professor and asked her about examining drafts of my own work. After all, it would be much more applicable to my actual thesis, not to mention it's still the same general idea of comparing versions of text. Somehow, I don't think she would have been supportive.

Why is it that the mandated classes are often the most frustrating?


Whittaker Luckless said...

Because America likes lemmings.

Shane said...

Do we have a lot of lemmings in America? Prairie dogs, yes, but I don't know about lemmings. But then prairie dogs have the plague, so they're one up on those other suicidal rodents.

Oh, wait, Ali had a question or comment or something. Let me see, the answer to your question is yes, mandated class are more frustrating. Why? Lack of choice, a curriculum developed over many years (thereby distilled to its most basic, i.e. uncreative point), a focus on dead white guys? I, actually, like the idea of a common core of study, but think there could be a lot more fun in the way its implemented. Perhaps more crossover emphasis linking past greats with the new up-and-comers. Often, all you really need is a good/cooperative professor to swing a class from staid and rigid to something exciting and engrossing. The best students just need a little room to breath and explore possibilities. My two cents.

Jenny said...

I think I know who your prof is in this class, and if you do propose a slight slant on a paper, you'll get it if you make your argument well enough. She gave me leave to work on something outside of the 'parameters' of the assignment once (however, that didn't go too well in the end because I didn't really finish it, so don't mention that...) and yours isn't even all that far outside.

Ali said...

I don't know who you're thinking of, Jenny, but this is a brand new professor, so I assume she's not the one you're thinking of.

I keep sitting in her class and having flashbacks to Dr. M's last year - not a good thing. Here's the funny part, the two of them are friends. I think it's not so coincidental that they both frustrate me.