Friday, April 25, 2008

Light At The End Of The Tunnel


When I set foot outside this morning, it was awfully reminiscent of that scene in the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy steps out of her house into Munchkin Land. Colors were brighter, the air smelled better, and food tasted better.

My paper for Cultures of Modern Europe on the Italian Neorealist movement got a B-. Apparently explaining the formation and influence of that movement in cinema doesn't count as historical content. Luckily, at the exact same moment I'd been handed my semester evaluation form. All that came across my mind was, "You've asked for it...and now you're going to get it."

I urged him to reconsider altering the definition of the word "modern" to begin in 1900 and not in 1795, and that a class on "modern" Europe should better cover the 20th Century rather than blaze over World War II and the Holocaust in a single class session, completely ignore the British Invasion, have no mention of the Prague Invasion of August 1968 beyond a PowerPoint slide, and that the course's chronology ends in 1992, with the fall of Communism.

Another point I made was that, since he complained so much about textbook author Norman Davies (to my knowledge, no relation to Ray & Dave) for his conservative slant, his absolutist definition of the word "revolution," and that for whatever reason he focused primarily on the all-important European nation of Poland through his book, "if you think Davies' work is such codswallop, perhaps you should dump his book like a cheating girlfriend and use alternative sources of information."

My final comment:
"One last thing, you might not want to return poorly-graded essays at the same time you distribute course evaluations."

Thank God these things are anonymous.

Not even that could ruin my day. The weather was gorgeous, and my final class session of this insipid semester was Czech literature, where we watched a great film, one which I felt embodied the spirit of Czech culture: half giddy humor, half sobering realism. Bronislava Volkova is one of the three greatest teachers I've ever had.

Want to hear another great thing? I never have to see that little senile old lady who taught Intro To Russian Culture ever again. It would be SO easy to rip her a new one had she not been so NICE! Had she been a crusty old grump, when she asked class today if there was any way the class could be improved (sadly, no real course evaluations in this one), my hand would have shot up like a rocket.

Tell you what I am doing: going to Rate My Professor right now to write about each professor I had this semester: a hard-nosed but witty and knowledgeable Japanese man in his late 50's, a Russian national who's not got all of her marbles, a geeky but friendly astronomer, the epitome of stuffed-shirt pomposity that I have always associated in my mind with the word "professor", and a Czech poet turned exile. How's that for a ragtag group?

Only three finals next week: Czech Literature and Astronomy on Tuesday, Cultures of Modern Europe on Friday.

Here comes the weekend. About time.


PS - Saturday of Little 500 weekend, Eric Condon randomly called to tell me that another Alabama trip is on, August 16-23. Speaking of him, he'll be up tomorrow for Andy's show. Hope he likes my girlfriend!

No comments: