The Second Time I Was Taller

Posted on 02/11/2011 by


The second time I studied Shakespeare I was taller. And slightly more conscious. I was an undergrad and it was Shakespeare: Text and Film which meant we got to read the plays and watch the movies for credit. (I actually spent quite a bit of my undergrad career taking classes that allowed the watching of movies for credit. And arranging my entire course load to ensure that I never had classes before lunch.)

This particular class generally consisted of three things. A pop quiz on the original texts that started the day (mostly in the form of our lecturer spouting lines of dialogue and demanding to know who said it and in which scene and what context); the watching of the movie of the week; and, if we could fit it in, about five minutes in which we could actually discuss things and our lecturer earnestly entreated us to read various critical texts.

My freakish super power is remembering dialogue and story trivia so I was awesome at the pop quizzes. Which confused my lecturer no end. To the point that one day he pulled me aside with this concerned expression and tried to politely ask if I was mental, or trying to fail. Turns out after our first two major assignments I was balancing on a perfect 50% pass grade, which while not particularly notable in itself (although absolutely ghastly in terms of my g.p.a.) was in direct contrast with the fact that I was thrashing the entire class in the pop quiz rankings.

Apparently I’d turned in two papers which were structurally perfect but didn’t actually say anything. Which supports my theory that I can write essays in my sleep if I have to, although not, possibly, if I want to communicate anything remotely substantive. In fact, I’d written the first as the last in a trio of assignments I had due during the most appalling case of the flu I have ever had in my life while on a road trip. In retrospect, it’s possible I should have asked for an extension on that one. The other I wrote the week a friend of mine died. I don’t think it even occurred to me to ask for extra time then. I wasn’t really thinking logically at the time.

My lecturer found my explanation both comforting and disturbing and told me later (after watching me defend my honours thesis) that he had waited quite anxiously to see what I did with my exam (I knocked it out of the park, thus bringing my grade up to something approaching respectable, although it is still the lowest grade I have ever received*).

Anyway. I think the point of this story is to say that grades are not always a reflection of the experience.** I loved that class.

Also there are better ways to study Shakespeare. But there are probably worse ones too.


* Except for that time I failed gym. But I don’t think that counts as that was due to me finding a way to legitimately never actually set foot in the gym. Well, I say ‘legitimately’. I never got in trouble for it but I think the ‘F’ may have been my gym teacher’s way of saying he disapproved.

** And, I suppose, sometimes one should ask for help?


Posted in: Kandace