Monday, April 30, 2007

An End of the Semester Little Self-Aggrandizement Corner

I just dismissed my last Barnard course, let them fill out evaluations, and had the penultimate sit here in my Barnard office. And I just discovered that one of my students had kept a record called "Quotable Karl (& Less Quotable Karl)," which she deposited in my mailbox. Here are the quotes:

On Switzerland: "You can see it in Goldfinger"*

On college-level spelling courses: "Oh, you mean without beer."

On the discursive construct of cannibalism** in Heart of Darkness: "Like you're on a ship that's being piloted by a burrito."

On pedagogy: "I'm just saying words."

On student discussion: "Gold stars for everyone!"

On his sentence: "No, that's stupid."

On contributing to society: "It's probably better -- for the world -- if I don't talk more."

On himself: "I'm full of deepness."

On domestic violence and Hurston: "I believe the word is 'blow,' not 'girly slap.'"***

Notes by the object of study:
* Frankenstein discussion.
** I love it when my students--my Freshmen!--start talking like this.
*** In correcting a student's misapprehension of Janie's violence in hitting Tea Cake in Their Eyes Were Watching God

I should also say that my students have parodied me to my face. They're especially fond of my use of the word "fantastic" as an all-purpose modifier for books I like. This happen to anyone else?


  1. Anonymous6:08 PM

    Once a student tallied for one semester all my Freud quotations and all my NIN lyric references. Unsurprisingly, it turned out almost 2-to-1 in favor of Trent.

  2. MU: that's hilarious.

    "Wo Es war, soll Ich werden
    I'd rather die than give you control."

    Okay, so it doesn't really scan, but the meaning is there.

  3. A female student's evaluation of my Henry James course a couple of years ago:

    "Its the best thing I've done in college....apart from having sex".

    I should hope so is all I could say in response.

  4. You do realize half the notes we take are really "funny things the prof said in class," yes?

    I have lots of them! I just never bother to put them in list form or give them back. :-P

  5. Michael O'R: if the student had said that reading James in your course was better than her collegiate sexual experience, THEN I would be impressed.

    As noted previously, my words this semester are skulk, shamble, and twaddle. All of my students now employ them.

  6. I just have to share this one, which some of you have probably heard before. A prominent Chaucer scholar at my school, who tries to "resist seeming definitive in order to encourage student thinking" received this comment from a student: "Professor X is such a nice guy. It's a pity he doesn't know more about Chaucer."

  7. flowendegieddum: it's only 9:30am, so I hope that's not the funniest thing I read today. But I suspect it might be.

    And now I shamble off to the library, where I'll skulk in a carrel and craft some more preposterous twaddle. (note to JJC: I'm included another word for your collection. Can you find it?)

  8. I told myself to stay away from this thread, but then I couldn't. My favorite comment from a student on an evaluation was:

    "I feel deep hatred for her as a teacher, but she's fun to hang out with outside of class."

  9. Karl, this is exactly the kind of list that passes through my mind after every class I teach. How nice to have someone else do it for you. I trust the Brooklyn College students will be similarly inspired. A preview of their genius: "Although I am no knight, I am a person dealing with my own nature everyday" (after reading SGGK).

  10. so I hope that's not the funniest thing I read today. But I suspect it might be.

    Shockingly enough, it wasn't. EJ: that takes the cake.

    And thanks very much for the kind comments Nicola. That is genius.

    And JJC: actually, I've decided the word is "popinjay."

  11. Yikes: "popinjay" is one of my ten year old son's favorite words.


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