Today is the type of day I find both exhilarating and exhausting at the same time–student meeting day! Exhilarating because face-to-face meetings are probably my favorite part of undergraduate education. You can accomplish so much by going over drafts in person, and it’s very rewarding to see how students are invested in their own work. Exhausting because they happen one after the other, with little or no break. My style of commenting is more hands-off than others’ styles; I don’t like telling students what to write, or what argument to make, or what interpretation to use. I’m more concerned that they understand how to use the sources at their disposal to make the argument they want to make, and if there are pitfalls to that argument, I want them to be aware of those as well. Thus I’ll often get papers that take a position with which I disagree, but that’s fine because, as I tell students, there are scholars who make your particular argument. Just do it well! Structure and consistency are my emphases, usually. Sentence structure, grammar, and syntax are important in supporting those functions; I’m not going to tear a paper apart giving minutely detailed instructions just for the heck of it. Not only is that boring for the students, it turns their brains off to the greater possibilities of revision, the purpose of revision, and the positive intention of changing your own prose. So, I’ll usually give a paragraph or a few select sentences the extended treatment, by way of demonstration, but always tied to larger issues of argument, structure, and thesis. Just my take on the subject, but it’s worked pretty well for me, and my students, so far.
But it’s time for a small break. In the news, Medievalists.net have posted a couple really fascinating stories of late (well, they’re all fascinating, but you get my point): there’s a new historical novel about Richard the Lionheart, but author Sharon Kay Penman, that looks very intriguing. They also did an interview with her, which is linked to this page as well. And archaeologists in Japan have found a shipwreck that is most likely from the Mongol invasion fleet of 1281. VERY exciting!!! Apparently it’s in quite good shape, and contains numerous objects preserved in their resting place a meter under the seabed.
I’ve rearranged a few things in the blog’s layout, as you may have noticed; I’m trying to spice things up, keep the side bars interesting. And I’m STILL working on lengthy post that updates my recent activities, and talks about my recent dissertation work–at this point, I started it right after I got back from Baylor on October 2, and it’s still not done. Let’s shoot for November 1st, shall we?
Have a great day!