As I predicted, I spent most of Mother’s Day 2007 reading thesis papers, except for the part where I tried and failed to get an international phone line to call my own mother, and the part where my students called and demanded an audience with me and I refused out of pure spite.

And, as requested, I hunted through my students’ paper for a few gems to share with you. I read about the famous American authors Edgar Anan pose and Nathaniel How Thorne. You remember Edgar Anan, right? He wrote a lot of stories which are still hell-known. This was during the Renaissance of New England, which was a flower excitement. I also learned about the famous Revolutionary writer Thomas Paine and his pamphlet “Common Since.” Emerson turned away from the hash, unforging congregational Calvinism. He was connected to Haward Divining School—I wasn’t sure if that was supposed to be Harvard or Hogwarts! His philosophy went by the nine of transcended realism.

I learned about geography. “Joel Barlow, one of the United States.” I learned about emotions: “I felt trodden on by a dirty boat.” I learned about the man who was a thread to his teachers, and that it was considered manly to rule your family with an iron feast (yum-mee). Corrupt leaders took the power to steel the nation’s reaches. The words “wile steel” might be better understood as “while still.”

Since it was supposed to be a treasure hunt, I wanted to give you clues by writing the word used by a student and having you guess what s/he meant. But that would take too long, since I only divined it through context and some mind-altering drugs (aka caffeine). So instead, I’ll write the word followed by its correction. Use the second word in a sentence, substitute the first, and you’ll realize how funny this can be:

            ceased=caused              release=realize              considered=consolidated

            opiate=opinionated        stranger=stronger          inclinational=inspirational

            introduced=induced        unity=vanity                  appreciate=appropriate 

            outlines=outlives           exited=exiled                combinations=conditions

            merge=emerge              quitter=quieter              contraction=contradiction

            false=face                     access=excess               health=heath

Feel free to include your new sentences in comments.


Shelley was something of an out slider. Keats went on a physically demanding welding tour of England. Animal Farm paradises the Russian revolution.

Oh there are SO MANY! I suppose the way to do this is to drag this idea out over several days. At some point I will talk, seriously, about the real challenges they face and the fact that their ability in English far exceeds mine in French or (gulp!) Arabic. But today is not that day—today is the deadline and yet a student handed me his 40 pages this morning. This is the first time I’ve seen his work typed. I have to read it and correct it and, according to my way of thinking, have him MAKE those corrections and let me read it again before I can sign off that it’s ready to submit. (In his way of thinking I would glance at the number of pages and sign off right then. His way is starting to look more and more attractive) So I’m disgruntled and on edge and I probably need more sleep and less caffeine instead of the other way round.

In the meantime, my very late student, in his acknowledgements, thanked me “from the bottom of his hearts.” I’m nearly ready to forgive him. But not quite yet.


(PS Wrote this Tuesday but couldn’t get on my own blog till today.)