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Sep. 12th, 2012

cathyn: (Default)
I passed my two hour Humanities class! This was the class for which I had to write two papers, one a rather fun work where I selected two periods of Art History, and wrote a compare/contrast piece for them, presuming the reader had no idea what either of them was, so I also had to describe them in some detail, as well as the sociopolitical climates in which they flourished.

The other was my three weeks of agony. Those who read my complaint on facebook are free to skip ahead. This assignment required that I select a written work from their list:
NOVELS:

    The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1925
    The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1850
    The Call of the Wild by Jack London, 1903

NOVELLAS:

    Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy, 1886
    The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells, 1897

SHORT STORIES:

    “The Package” by Kurt Vonnegut, 1952
    “Johnny Mnemonic” by William Gibson, 1981
    “The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson, 1948
    “A Small, Good Thing” by Raymond Carver, 1983
    “Silver Water” by Amy Bloom, 1993
    “The Third and Final Continent” by Jhumpa Lahiri, 1999
    “The Lost ‘Beautifulness’” by Anzia Yezierska, 1920
    “The Veldt” by Ray Bradbury, 1950
    “The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World” by Gabriel García Márquez, 1968

POEMS:

    “That the Science of Cartography is Limited” by Eavan Boland, 1994
    “A Brave and Startling Truth” by Maya Angelou, 1995
    “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley, 1888
    “If” by Rudyard Kipling, 1895
    “Praise Song for the Day” by Elizabeth Alexander, 2009
    “Let America be America Again” by Langston Hughes, 1935

ESSAY:

    “A Talk to Teachers” by James Baldwin, 1963


Having selected a single work from this list (I chose Garcia-Marquez' "Handsomest Drowned Man...") I was then to select two works from these three genres, 2d Art, Film, Music, which were ostensibly unrelated, which is to say I could not select Jack London's "Call of the Wild" as my written work, Ted Nugent's "Call of the Wild" as my musical piece, and and the 1923 movie "Call of the Wild", starring John Thornton.

Once I had selected my works (I chose "Won't Get Fooled Again" by The Who, and "Persistence of Memory" by Salvador Dali), I then had to create a PowerPoint presentation wherein I identified the works, and described their creating and the elements thereof in detail, write an objective analysis of each, a subjective analysis of each, analyze the relationship between the works, and, my favorite part:

Reflect on each analysis presented, by addressing the following:
1. How the themes, moods, and meanings you have identified in the works shed light on the human condition
2. How you relate these themes, moods, and meanings to your profession
3. How knowledge of the humanities is valuable in relation to your profession

So I did it. Keep in mind that this is a 2 Competency Unit (credit hour) class, which is also as close as one might get at WGU to an elective. I opened PowerPoint, and followed the assignment guidelines, creating blank a slide for an introduction, 3 for naming and describing the elements of creation of the works, 6 more for describing the subject matter of each, 3 more for the subjective analyses, 3 more for the objective analyses, 4 slides for the relationships, 3 slides for the reflection, 3 slides for the summary and conclusion, and two slides for the APA-formatted citations. 28 slides. I then wrote the slides. Did a pretty good job (I thought), and submitted.

Then I got the first "Needs revision" message, telling me I had failed to include a bunch of data they had not mentioned in the assignment, but was crucial to a passing grade. I love finding out after the fact that there are things you are being graded on that are not in the question, especially in something so subjective as Art Criticism. So, I made the requested additions, about 4 slides worth of additional data, saved and resubmitted.

Then I got the second "Needs revision" message, telling me I had failed to include the moods and themes of each piece, which, you guessed it, were actually addressed in the slides, but clearly not thoroughly enough, nor the first "needs revision" report. So I addressed their requests, about two more slides worth, saved and resubmitted.

Then I got the third "Needs revision" message, telling me my conclusion did not support my thesis, and I had still failed to address moods and themes, and additionally, I had failed to demonstrate the personal impact of the pieces on me, nor addressed how the humanities are valuable in my profession. Strangely, I had in fact addressed each of these points, so I went after my presentation with a vengeance, remembering this was supposed to be a 2-hour elective, and I just created labels for everything. I deleted 2/3rds of my thesis, and bullet-pointed it, then copied and pasted it on my conclusion slide, slightly re-worded. I chopped my analyses up by creating new slides, writing the words "Theme:", "Mood:", and "Conclusion:" on each slide and c-n-p-ing the relevant parts into the new slides under each heading, without changing a word. I simplified my "reflections" on the works with a chainsaw, cutting it from 4 slides to two, completely writing down to my reader as if I was writing for a room full of nine-year-olds rather than the business professionals I was supposed to be pretending to write for. Gritting my teeth, I saved and resubmitted.

I passed, getting a "The themes and moods are linked well to the works, and business. Well done!" from the grader. Apparently writing nuanced analysis for adults is not what they wanted. They wanted me to scribble everything out with a crayon, which I reckon I should have presumed when they requested a PowerPoint presentation rather than a paper.

All that for a "Pass" on a 2 credit hour Pass/Fail elective. Reminds me of being in a regular university...

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