Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Victorian Culture vs Wonderland Culture

Victorian Culture vs. Wonderland Culture


When I went back to get my graduate degree to teach secondary English, I had to take a lot of English classes.  It didn’t seem to matter that I already had an English degree.  So, I sat in classes with students much younger than me and aced the classes because I had already developed the skill they were trying to teach. 


Well, one of the classes I had to take was Introduction to English Studies.  As part of the class we read Alice in Wonderland.  We had to write a critical essay on it and my essay compared the Victorian culture to the Wonderland culture.  I got an A on the paper and was later asked if the professor could use it as a student example in her writing textbook.  Of course, I said yes.


I was promised a copy of the book, but I never got one.  I didn’t see that professor until one day when I was in the English office talking about the doctorate program.  I asked her if she had used my essay and she said no, that she ended up going with another essay.  That was fine with me – no big deal.


Then one day I “googled” myself and found my name listed on some college syllabi.  Come to find out, the essay had been used and classes were reading and discussing my essay.  I looked the book up on and ordered a used one for three dollars.  I was proud to find my essay in it.  But it was a sweet satisfaction, because I was a little aggravated at the comments the professor had about the essay.  She picked at some little things that she shouldn’t have and tried to pull some examples of “what not to do” out of the essay, when she should have used it as an example of “what to do.”  Others who read the comments and essay felt like she was really pulling to try and find something to say about the paper.  I guess she forgot the footnote that said the essay received an A and that I had aced her class.  But why should she remember that when she didn’t remember to send me a complimentary copy?  And she didn’t thank me in the acknowledgements, even though she did everyone else who had an essay appear in the book.


I am grateful that the essay was used and that I can list it in my writing credits.  But there are also some lessons to learn from this experience.  One, I need to follow through when I promise something to someone, especially a student.  Also, if I ever promise complimentary copies to someone, then I need to be sure that person gets a copy.  And lastly, if I’m going to acknowledge people’s help, I don’t want to leave someone off.




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