My brain hurts

I have found it. Not merely a bad English comp paper, but THE Holy Grail of hideously bad English comp papers, one that should entitle the TA who receives it to go home with a bottle of Scotch and take the rest of her life off. In fact, it deserves not one but at least FOUR Fs.

  1. The paper was turned in five days late (automatic F).

  2. There was no Works Cited page, and the author made no attempt to identify his sources. Plagiarism, another automatic F.

  3. The assignment asked the students to analyze a major character from one of the films we saw in class. Bob Dylan, suffice to say, is not a major character – or even a minor one – in the film. Off topic: another F.

  4. Well, hell. Judge for yourself.

Hell of a way to begin a paper, isn’t it? It gets better. A short plot summary of the film “The Hurricane” follows, then a paragraph of uncited information about Dylan’s meeting with Carter in prison. Then, completely out of left field:

End of paper. God damn, I need a drink…

Well, that’s pretty bad. But these give it a run for the money.


Is this why one of my college papers this semester came back with no less then 4 compliments on my works cited? (GREAT in text citation!) (Very complete works cited page, thanks!), etc. I’m thinking “hello! I just followed the MLA instructions!”

I’ve also had professors go on and on about how my papers contain an introductory paragraph as well as a summary at the end. Didn’t anyone else take freaking college writing??

One advantage of taking distance learning classes is that I can guage my learning skills against others, since I can read their writing styles. I am absolutely astounded at how clueless people are. They answer questions that are not asked, refuse to spell check, and ask “What is this due??” when the date is posted right in the course outline.

Scary shit, and you have my sympathy, Fretful. Knock one back for me, OK?


Fretful, get that drink. And have one for me.

The truly sad part is, it’s entirely possible–nay, likely–this person will graduate.


I hope the kid typed it. I’d really hate to fight through that if it was in longhand, though i’s dottid with little hearts might help.

And this is why I’m not going to work-for-credit at the college Writing Center…(“It’s a wonderful opportunity!” “No, you’re bribing me with credits to do a shitty job.”)

Sympathies, Fretful.

If the MLA student handbook is on the syllabus as a required text, why do we spend a whole class before every paper is due going over the right way to cite things? It’s right there! The book cost what, $14? You probably drink three times that each weekend!

Ahem. And I came online to start my own related rant.

Another F coming up: the shithead misspelled “Beatles”. Sheesh.

“He is described as the most influenced songwriter of the 20th century.”
Hm. I don’t know; I think whoever came up with MacArthur’s Park was the most ‘influenced’ songwriter of the 20th century.

And worse still is the distinct possibility that this person will get a good-paying job as oh, say…a business project manager, and he will then use his stunted writing skills to put together a confusing, rambling, and almost completley incoherent analysis document that someone like me has to wade through and try to figure out just what the hell is being said, and why the hell it couldn’t have been said using about 80% less words and presented in a way that even remotely readable and…pant…pant…pant…

OK. I’m all right now. I just had a moment there…

[office space] “This guy’s got upper management written all over him!” [/office space]

Ironies of the Universe #1637: People who love good writing so much, they major in English, and wind up as English teachers, obligated to read lots and lots of really horrible writing.

Update time.

I handed the papers back in class today. The student claimed that this was meant to be a draft of his next assignment, and he’d sent the last one to me as an e-mail attachment. (N.B. I never got the e-mail. My syllabus states that I do not accept papers via e-mail, precisely because of situations like this.) Well. It’s now too late for him to turn in the last paper and get a passing grade, so I told him to concentrate on the next one and come by my office for a conference.

Conference time. We did some brainstorming and managed to come up with a passable working thesis and outline for the final paper (mostly my work, not his). I asked him whether he’d been to the Writing Center. “Yes,” he said, “but they didn’t really help all that much. I mean, they don’t write your papers for you.” :rolleyes:

Then he informed me that he usually got As and Bs in English, this was by far the hardest class he’d ever encountered, and he didn’t think it was “fair” to “bring students down” when they were making and effort and turning in all their assignments. Also, he thought the late penalty was unreasonable, because it didn’t “help people improve their writing.” (No, but it will jolly well teach you to follow directions :rolleyes: )

I pointed out that he was not writing on anything CLOSE to an acceptable college level, and that I would be doing him a disservice if I let him think he was. He insisted that he’d always gotten good grades at the community college he transferred from. Somewhere, there is a community college instructor I would like to throttle…

A boy in my English lit class twe semesters ago wrote a paper on The Merchant of Venice with the thesis statement, “Shakespeare: A man of all times, and of our time.”


/me is repressing a rant against the Stuart Smalley School of Holistic Pedagogy.

Carry on…


I feel your pain.

My mom’s ex is an English professor at a very large school. Unlike some of his colleagues, he graded all the exams, which meant days of hell with those blue books sitting all over the house and one VERY grouchy prof…anyway, I know why.

Because I could write better in FIRST GRADE than some of those people could do in COLLEGE. A few times, when I was a junior and senior in high school, I sat there and picked them apart; some were so bad that it didn’t matter what they were about, anybody could see that these people COULD NOT WRITE FOR SHIT.

I encountered the same phenomenon while I flew through what was for me stupid useless freshman English. I did not need either of those semesters. I can produce pages of English-class glurge on demand, that profs give me As on. I’m not even an English major. It’s not that hard!

[Ralph Wiggum]

Me fail English? That’s unpossible!

[/Ralph Wiggum]