30 November, 2009

Bullshit Close Reading

I am cheerfully gearing up for another Bullshit Close Reading on a Latin paper that is due tomorrow at noon. I'm supposed to use a lot of sources. But I can't find any books in the library that are helpful. Looking for sources and synthesizing them is my least favorite thing to do, and sometimes I scrounge around and try to convince myself I will do it, but in the end what always emerges is a Bullshit Close Reading. A Bullshit Close Reading isn't really bullshit, it's just not the assignment. It just means you focus really hard on one document and try to say smart things about it.

In America, especially at Oberlin the capital of feelings and weed, I frequently receive B-s or even B+s on my Bullshit Close Readings. "This isn't really the assignment but a good close reading!!" the professor scrawls loopily, like they do, adding smiley faces at particularly striking parts. Unfortunately this doesn't seem to be the mindset in the UK. I just received back a Bullshit Close Reading with a 48%, which is not as bad as it sounds because a 50% is a C-, but it's still worse than I would have expected. The person who graded it left a lot of marks because I used contractions and randomly went off on a tangent about how illuminated manuscripts are like affective piety because they make Christianity accessible to everyone. To be honest I think they just didn't know what affective piety is and they got confused. I'm not trying to be a dick and I know that Bullshit Close Readings are sort of, well, bullshit, but there's merit in them too, they're passionate and full of rhetorical flair! Don't box me in, Paper Grader!

I also didn't know that in the UK the title of your paper is supposed to be the title of the prompt. You're not supposed to make up your own title. I don't even like making up my own title but I thought I was supposed to like you are in America, so I don't think it's fair that I got points off for this. Well anyway, I am writing about What We Can Learn From Pro Archia. I think we can learn that literature was sort of important but not really, because Cicero has to make a big deal out of how reading poetry makes him a better lawyer--which is kind of like saying it's okay to be ASD because it helps you invent better ways to kill cows. ASD/poetry must be inherently bad if you're flailing around trying to justify it like that.

Anyway. Here we go. Maybe I can get a 50 this time.

1 comment:

  1. Close reading is really rubbish. It asks you to interpret something in the form of what the examiner wants and then it only accepts nothing other than what the marking scheme says. I am good at English. I have surprised people when I write good essays. But the dreaded wrath of close reading ruins my grades, it ruins everything. Universities should no longer look for English close reading grades to prove which student is good and which student is bad. Close reading is unreliable, annoying and just awful to people who think differently. Having short sentences is not always going to be classified as being arrogant. Being like a "pig" is not the same as being dirty, that is unfair animal discrimination. May close reading live a dead life. For every soul who struggles after completing 20 past papers.