Tue Feb 5, 2013, 02:14 AM
ashling (24,037 posts)
Fake - but I have seriously considered some of this
The following syllabus is for my new class, English 401: The Short Novel, meeting Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1:10-2:50pm.
In this class, we will analyze some of World Literature’s greatest short novels in an attempt to interrogate the essence of plot and character while reading as few words as possible. Each class session will begin with a student presentation of 15 to 20 minutes, so we’re looking at an effective class time of about an hour. I’d love to give you a five-minute break halfway through the period, with the tacit understanding that we actually blow 15, but then I’d have to pretend I didn’t notice when 36% of you didn’t bother to come back. Or I’d have to pass around the attendance sheet again, which is a major pain in the ass.
After the student presentation, which should cover structure and theme but will seldom rise above rote plot summary, I will provide whatever historical and biographical context is both critical to our understanding of the book and available on Wikipedia. But I will sound so authoritative and well-versed that you’d never know this, even if you had the book’s Wikipedia page open on the laptop you’re pretending to take notes on, rather than your Facebook newsfeed.
Course books are available at the campus bookstore. Please refrain from contacting me eight weeks from now to say that the book we’re discussing tomorrow is sold out and you are thus unable to do the reading. What if you went to the store to buy toilet paper, and they were out of it? Correct: You’d go to another store. Or, even better, you’d anticipate your need for toilet paper and purchase it before the moment of desperation. I am not comparing the great short novels of world literature to toilet paper.
My grading policy is to remain above the fray. Your assignments will be read by Scott, the Teaching Assistant. If you question me about your marks, I will plead ignorance. If pressed, I will strongly imply that Scott holds some kind of mystical or legal sway over me and that I am powerless to alter his decisions. Scott and I have worked all this out ahead of time; he is the Bad Cop and I am the Kindly Aloof Genius. Let me be clear: It would take a major act of God – not the kind of thing they consecrate saints for these days, but a plague of cigar-chomping Labradoodles plummeting from the heavens – for me to read a single word you have written.
I think the toilet paper explanation is promising.
I sometimes consider using: "Late papers will not be accepted except in case of verifiable emergency, usually involving blood."
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