Wednesday, April 18, 2007

What a day!

Such a mess of a day! I sware...

Was a total mess in Latin... This whole perfect passive participle thing is killing me... Not how to form it. I get that... but how to translate it? Hehe... I wish! It's not coming as instinctively as all the other tenses and forms have. We're told constantly in English classes that passive voice is bad, bad, bad... Drilled to never do it, even while we aren't told precisely what it is (because grammar education in this country sucks)... Even though it isn't incorrect, strictly speaking, it's just not "the most correct." ::rolls eyes:: what ever...

But what *really* killed me today was my seminar tonight. We had to turn in our rough drafts last Monday, or I should say more precisely, my half of the class did. We did this to the other half of the class last week. So for tonight's class, those of us who turned our papers in this week had our papers ripped apart by everyone else. I guess I'm sensitive about such things... or maybe its because even after all the info I've gathered, I still don't feel I have a handle on it, or perhaps it's just because I already felt this paper sucked... I don't know, but that was damn hard. I didn't argue with people like most others did. I didn't defend it and I tried really hard to explain myself, but I think even I didn't know what I was saying most of the time. ::sighs::

And this one woman... whom I shall not name... I don't know what her issue is, but she has about as much tact as a ton of bricks that's been thrown off the top of the Empire State Building. She couldn't form her questions in a more condescending, "how could you dream of saying something like *this*!" kind of way... I sware... I refuse to take it personally (if I keep saying it, eventually, I'll believe it) because she was doing the same thing to everyone... Questioning the sources I used, questioning their validity, as if it were my mistake, as if I should know the answer or know better. Very abrassive... I don't know if they're right or wrong! I'm an undergrad with exactly 6 classes in the Medieval period! That hardly gives me the knowledge or experience I'd need to question a PhDed historian who at least thinks that they themselves are right in their interpretation!

I don't perform well verbally when under pressure, so I was quite flustered. I tell you, I don't wish the experience on anyone.

I also don't question things until I feel I have all the information. This is just my nature. I ask questions I need to ask to gain more information, but unless something conflicts with another source, I don't question it... and I certainly don't answer questions myself. And I don't form my own interpretation until I have all the info either... This is why I never speak in classes. I listen to what everyone else has to say about something and I come to my own opinion on a particular topic slowly... It develops over months, sometimes years of incubation. So being put into a position like I was this evening, I can't tell you how very flustered I was. It sucked... really hard...

For the rest of the class, I felt like I was going to be sick. I almost got up a few times to get some air outside, but I was afraid if I moved that much I'd be sick. So I just stayed in my seat and tried not to look obviously upset. That took most of my concentration... And I'm not even sure it was successful because I have one of those faces where you can see what I'm thinking by looking at me and I really can't hide it (unless I'm actively lying... I am a really good liar when I want to be...)... And even when I got home a little while ago, I still felt a little nauseous. This was why I had wanted to go last, I knew I'd have this reaction and be perfectly useless to anyone for anything for the rest of the time I was required to be there... but the prof decided that I had to go *next* to last. All I know about the last paper was that it was about the waste of fishmongers and butchers in Medieval London and the problems that it caused for the other townspeople. Even so, I really don't think that it contributed to the nausea at all...

I can't even bring myself to look seriously at the rough draft copy I got back from the prof... I just can't take it right now... I have to let it sit until at least Friday... maybe Saturday... so that I can detatch myself from taking it personally. I didn't used to have this reaction it seems to me... It seems that it is a new problem... I didn't used to get reactions like this to the papers I wrote either... I think it's because... it's almost like he grades them and considers them on a graduate scale or something. I dunno...

I'm thinking I don't want to be a historian... I'm thinking I want to look into Classics or Literature or... or folk crafts or something... something that can be open to interpretation that's not right or wrong, only opinion... or be so concrete that there is no interpretation, there's only what it is... I don't like all this conflict and derision. It seems to me that History is open to interpretation so long as the majority agrees with it, but at the same time, we're constantly told we have to come up with out own, new, never-before-seen-that-way interpretation... and then we get shot down like a USAF jet-fighter over Germany circa 1943. It stresses me out too damn much! For goodness sake, this is the kind of class I'd have all through grad school with History! I don't know if I could stand that... I'm starting to wonder what I ever liked about it 'cause it sure isn't the Academia aspect of it!

But I'll stew over it for a while, as I do with everything else, before I make a decision. My life is nothing but options at this point, which is both a blessing and a curse...

The only bright spots of the day were Latin class (because it can't be anything but, even when it's hard), Roman Lit (again for the same reason), eating lunch with Stacey, one of my friends from Latin, seeing Maria for all of 2 seconds (both she and I are *so* busy right now!), and arriving home to discover that my "Save A Horse, Ride A Cowboy" t-shirt had come in the mail and it fits! I will wear it to Latin tomorrow. :D

6 comments:

ilana said...

I had a similar problem with passive voice in a history class. The professor is horribly anal--he describes himself thus--and threatened to deduct one point per instance of passive voice in the last paper we wrote for his class. Naturally this affected people's grades quite a lot. I pointed out that a lot of history books, news casts, news articles, and numerous other reputable reference materials contain innumerable uses of passive voice, and that he LECTURED in passive voice constantly (this Icommented on to a number of other people, not to him).
What do I know? I'm just a student. Or was, rather. I've NEVER had such a ferocious nitpicker. The most difficult history professor I ever had, and indeed one of the most difficult and demanding professors on campus, was kind enough to bestow an A-- on the last paper I wrote for him, and I got a low C from Mr. Passive Voice? It had nothing to do with the quality of the work so much as punishing the student for following some stupid whim of the teacher, who apparently felt his job was not to teach Asian history, but rather to teach us basic grammar. What, exactly, are you paying these people for? I sympathize.

Rachael said...

Thank you, I appreciate it. Ouch, about your prof! That was just mean of him! He must have been tenured. No untenured prof would ever attempt something like that. Passive voice is not technically wrong - I've read that in grammar books - it's just not *as* right as active voice... I really wish they wouldn't take everything so seriously and relax a little bit.

Passive voice is the bane of my existance right now... My history prof is like "don't use passive voice! it's wrong!", among other annoyances... I was like, "dude! It's a rough draft! stop trying to grade it like it's a finished paper! Or a disertation for that matter." There's a difference, I've learned, between giving constructive comments in a tactful and helpful way, and just being cruel and calling it "constructive criticism"... and my latin prof is trying to teach us the passive voice in Latin, because apparently, the Romans *loved* the passive voice and used it all the time! But because I've had the "no, passive voice = bad" thing beaten into me, I'm having a really impossible time grasping the differences and how they are translated. Why, if it was good enough for Cicero, is it not good enough for us?

::sighs:: I'm just griping... And I'm about ready to say "screw it!" and stop worrying, just do what I can to the paper without killing myself over it, taking whatever grade that leaves me with and be done with this whole semester. One way or another, I'm so out of there as of April 30th and I'm not going back until the end of August.

ilana said...

I've gone rounds about archaic usage with several people. Just because it's archaic, it doesn't mean it's wrong; it's just not the current, accepted word, usage, or definition. Sometimes things used in British English are considered wrong by Americans, especially spellings; it's just stupid and narrow minded. In my opinion, at least. Bleh. I think we should start a movement to revive archaic words and phrases, dammit! I've always been partial to "Odds bodkins!" myself.

Rachael said...

I am so with you on that!! I love "odd bodkins!" People in my Latin class want to bring Latin back too... I bet we could do both if we tried really hard. But maybe we better start with the archaic English. ::nods:: Honestly, why is "Susan called Stacy" so much more correct than "Stacy was called by Susan." Both are perfectly understandable to me... I mean, who made that decision? Because surely something this contrived wasn't thought up by the general public spontaneously.

ilana said...

It's just a trend. Teaching has these trends which come along every decade or so, and I think that's one of them. Well, not just teaching, obviously.
A good example of how these trends change is this: Would Joseph Conrad be published today? I think it's extremely unlikely.
Okay.. maybe that wasn't the best example, but I'm sure you get the picture. I got into a similar argument (and lost) over a word in that same paper. I used the word "seeming" to mean appearance. It's not a modern, accepted use, but the dictionary told me I wasn't wrong using it that way; the head of the history department said I was wrong, and when I pointed out that Webster's Unabridged didn't say so, he changed his tune and said it was clumsy usage. Ah-ha! That's still not WRONG. But because I don't have sixteen PhDs or whatever (sound familiar?) I know nothing.
Zounds, I say! :P

Rachael said...

... I'm not even sure who Joseph Conrad is... But I agree with you that this certainly is a trend. And zounds indeed! I used the word "usury" in a similar archaic way in the title of my term paper last semester, to mean the act of exploiting something/someone for unfair personal gain. Thankfully, the prof did not object. How very silly that they would object to the use of "seeming!" I hate stupid double-standards like that... I've seen questionable things in the published work of some academics and some artists as well which I know my professors and teachers would not have accepted in a student's work, but they seem to have no problem with it in the work of other people as long as they are PhD-ed or popular artists. That's bs right there... Zounds a thousand times!