04 December 2010

How Chaucer prepares you for the real world

Would you like a side of friars with that?

To be fair, the sentence did actually make sense as written; it's just that the first time through I did not parse "a side of friars" correctly. My bad. This time.

When I read a competently written paper, free of stupid errors (surely you should have learned in high school, or freshman comp at latest, that titles of short works, like essays, go inside quotation marks, and book titles get italicized, and that you should refer to essays by the names of their authors, not the name of the editor of the collection? Surely?) and with evidence of actual thought and engagement with the material, I can feel my blood pressure drop. I feel as if my fur has finally, finally, been stroked in the right direction. I get interested in what the paper has to say, when I don't have to struggle to understand sentences and to figure out the logic (if any) of paragraphs. (I have at least two students who do not distinguish between "logic" and "free association.") So, yes, there are some good ones; but I am most terribly tired of reading papers that (a) show that the writer doesn't actually understand the text being discussed and (b) make me work harder to understand the writing than I can believe the writer worked at the writing.

OK, that was a horrible sentence, but you see what this is doing to me. Maybe I'll go out for a side of friars.


undine said...

"not the name of the editor of the collection? Surely"

Yes, they should be able to get it right. And please don't call me Shirley. (Sorry--I couldn't resist.)

Dame Eleanor Hull said...

Someday I am going to name a cat Shirley, just so it's clear who I'm talking about!