Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Beauties of Circumstantial Writing

Ok, so I just had to make a post about how much I love it when people can write fabulously based on certain circumstances. I very much appreciate creative lyrics, deeply moving religious speeches, and hilariously funny comedians. You name it, if the writer/speaker has a knack for writing something specific, it with shine through.  What pushed me to make this post was an email I received from one of my professors. The story goes as follows:

We were in class and one of the students requested that we move back the deadline for an essay we have to write. My teacher (as well as a few students, including myself) found this suggestion absurd, since the newly proposed deadline was the day before out midterm, which would leave people furiously trying to finish the essay instead of studying for the midterm. But, my teacher being the way he is, and with this being a course in Early American History, when a written proposal was thrust into my teacher's hand he could not help but turn the matter over to the people (i.e. students). And so, we had a democratic vote, and an appalling percentage (basically all but my friend and I - at least that's all I could see) voted to move the deadline back. 

Ok, so I just have to pause here for a second and vent what I was thinking. So, for this assignment we had to read "A Midwife's Tale," by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich (about 350 pages), and then write a three-page paper based on an assigned topic. So here are the thoughts that I was experiencing during this democratic revolution (and am still thinking about to this moment):
1.     We've known about this assignment since the very beginning of the course
2.     The midterm is worth WAY more points that this
3.     In reality you could write the essay without reading the whole book
4.     Reminders to read the book showed up on the syllabus two weeks ago
5.     And get this, the biggest one of all: THE ESSAY IS ONLY THREE PAGES LONG!!!
Does anyone else see the absurdity of this situation? Clearly these people are not writers. Maybe it is because this is really a freshman class and I'm in my last semester as a senior. Maybe it is because I'm a writer. Maybe it's because I specialize in this particular area of history. Either way, I still think they are crazy. 

SO, back to the point of this essay! My teacher is fantastic in his every day rhetoric (just today he said another thing I just had to write down because it sounded so grand: "You were adding arrows to the quiver of your rhetorical arsenal!" - Speaking of the many short essays we have already written in preparation for our essay-based midterm next week). Due to the vote that took place in class, the deadline for the essay was changed, and to make sure everyone knew about it my professor sent out the following email, which still has me laughing:

You, the People (i.e., unruly mob, unwashed masses, foul tyranny of the majority, etc.):

Owing to a minor democratic revolt against my benevolent, yet admittedly absolute, power, I have adjusted the deadline for the Midwife's Tale essay:

The essay is now due by 9 am on Wednesday, February 22. You can still turn it in any time before then, of course.      

I trust that this revolution will remain of the "Glorious" variety, in the sense that it merely secures limited privileges/protections from my benevolent hand but does not entail a general reconsideration of my despotic, er, monarchical rule. Don't make me close Boston Harbor.

In utter and complete power,

Prof. Fluhman

I personally will be perfectly content and will be turning in my essay of 1,250 words by Friday, February 17 - the original deadline. 


  1. I never understood democracy in a classroom. When I was a teacher I told my students that my class was a dictatorship and revolutions would be quickly squashed!

    There is a reason why professors put all the dates on the syllabus. College is the time for young adults to get a handle on time management.

    Good for you for turning the assignment in when it is due.

  2. Thanks HeatherL! I try to be responsible, most of the time, haha. It's so true! People need to learn to meet deadlines at some point!

  3. Your professor sounds as if he would induce me to find reasons to take classes from him or at least to hear him lecture. I love to listen to bright people who use words well. I think he should close Boston Harbor. :)