Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘exams

Monday Night Links!

leave a comment »

* Northrop Frye by way of Adam Roberts: The basis of critical knowledge is the direct experience of literature, certainly, but experience as such is never adequate. We are always reading Paradise Lostwith a hangover or seeing King Lear with an incompetent Cordelia or disliking a novel because some scene in it connects with something suppressed in our memories, and our most deeply satisfying responses are often made in childhood, to be seen later as immature over-reacting… As a structure of knowledge, then, criticism, like other structures of knowledge, is in one sense a monument to a failure of experience, a tower of Babel or one of the “ruins of time” which, in Blake’s phrase, “build mansions in eternity.” Adam makes the same connection to SF I make:

I think this resonates so strongly with me partly because science fiction was something I fell in love with as a child-reader. I still love it; still write it and write about it. But I’m increasingly conscious of the ways in which the exercise is based upon a kind of structural hermeneutic inadequacy. ‘Our most deeply satisfying responses are often made in childhood, to be seen later as immature over-reacting’ is almost a too perfect thumbnail of the adult apprehension of SF; and SF criticism always a kind of running-to-catch-up uttering various post-facto justifications. What’s neat about this Frye quotation is the sense it conveys that, actually, all criticism is in the business of doing this.

“Industrial-era education” as rhetorical whipping boy.

* Lukewarm Obama scandals coming day-by-day now. Hello, second term!

“Of the 41 percent of Republicans who consider Benghazi to be the worst political scandal in American history…

* Lili Loofbourow covers the struggle against privatization of higher ed in Chile for Boston Review.

* NPR profiles Duke’s Own Fred Moten.

So This Is How It Begins: Guy Refuses to Stop Drone-Spying on Seattle Woman.

* Peter Frase has more on Universal Basic Income as utopia.

* Why all babies say “mama.”

* Kurt Vonnegut’s final exam prank.

And let this be our culture’s epitaph. We could do worse.

Links for Friday

with one comment

* Writing in Dissent, Feisal G. Mohamed uncovers the real crisis of the humanities: English departments.

* Remaking the University at MLA: The View from 2020.

* Any new technology of war is first developed in the colonies before its deployment in the metropole: Miami PD will become the first local police department to use unmanned drones. Via MeFi.

* Are we living through the spamocalypse?

* Did comprehensive exams make me as smart as I’ll ever be? A sobering thought!

* Taibbi v. Boehner. Bonus: Deficit hawk Boehner can’t name a single federal program he’d cut.

* If the answer to this puzzle is really “What would happen if the entire human race became immortal?”, I may have to start watching Torchwood.

* Blographia Literaria wants to spend winter on Mars, reading Kim Stanley Robinson.

* And Neil sends in the latest entry in soccer’s beloved “unbelievable near-misses” genre.

Exam Nostalgia

leave a comment »

You know, some days I almost miss those things.

(Via a long train of Facebook posts that will someday encompass every academic I know)

Exam Lists

leave a comment »

I realize I never actually put my exam lists on the blog, so now that they’re over I thought I might as well. They are far too long and far too diffuse, with some bizarre intensities and many unfortunate omissions and a sometimes questionable relationship to what actually was read—but perhaps something somewhere will catch your eye.

Research Field: “Science Fiction, Modernity, and Empire”

Teaching Field: “American Literature, Film, and Popular Culture After 1898”

Here, too, is SEK on qualifying exams, perhaps the only good thing that has ever been written on the subject.

Now let us never speak of them again.

Written by gerrycanavan

September 30, 2009 at 1:50 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , ,


leave a comment »

So I’ve passed my exams. (Hooray!) This should free up some much needed time for playing World of Goo. (Hooray!) Sincere thanks for all the best-wishes; if I can ask, please direct all future “good thoughts” towards my dissertation (expected completion date May 2017).

Written by gerrycanavan

September 29, 2009 at 6:51 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , ,

Exam Prep Hell

leave a comment »

Preparing for my exams, day 10,000.

Written by gerrycanavan

August 19, 2009 at 1:29 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , ,

Philosophy Exam, First Year

leave a comment »

Philosophy Exam – First Year. From Bill Pollard via Crooked Timber.

In marking exam scripts this year I have once more been alarmed at the mismatch between students’ answers and the questions set. To rectify the situation Soran Reader and I have devised a paper, usable for almost all philosophy courses, which should bring the two back into harmony. Members of the list should feel free to use any part of it when setting future papers.

Philosophy Exam – First Year

Answer two questions

Two hours

1. Patch together some things you have heard in lectures, in no particular order.

2. Has this question vexed philosophers for centuries?

3. Create an impression of original thought by impassioned scribbling (your answer may be ungrammatical, illegible, or both).

4. Does the answer to this question depend on what you believe?

5. How much irrelevant historical background can you give before addressing this question?

6. Describe two opposing views, then say what you personally feel.

7. Rise above the fumbling efforts of others and speculate freely on an issue of your choice.


(a) Answer this question by announcing that it really means something different (and much easier to answer).


(b) Write out your answer to last year’s question on this topic.

9. Protest your convictions in the teeth of obvious and overwhelming objections.

10. Keep your reader guessing about what you think until the end. Then don’t tell them.

Written by gerrycanavan

June 8, 2008 at 11:35 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , ,