Home > English > [#3] – English 122 – Texts and Contexts

[#3] – English 122 – Texts and Contexts

English, at the University level, is a member of what I like to call: The Terrible Two.  “The Terrible Two,” or TTT for short, consists of two vehemently dreaded courses that many undergraduates are required to take at some point during their academic careers.  TTT is comprised of the aforementioned English, and its diametrically opposed ‘evil’ sibling, Physics.  Today’s post will be directed exclusively towards English … I will have to tackle its uncouth relative on a later date.  Let’s spare no time and get started!

English Class ... whyz its importent ne wayz?

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Preamble:

As I stated in the opening paragraph, for whatever reason, countless students attach a negative stigma to English courses in general.  I have observed that this mindset is adopted very early in life; possibly as early as elementary (primary) school.  Perhaps people don’t like it because they believe it is far too subjective; maybe they’ve had a poor teacher once, or twice, or thrice …  The bottom line, however, is that there are an innumerable amount of reasons for people’s overall disdain for this subject.  With that said, the only thing we can know for certain, is the fact that many students simply do not want to take an English course (but must, because of university policy; prerequisite requirements; etc.)

For the most part, up until my second year of high-school, I was one of these students.  I just couldn’t see the importance of learning about past participles and coordinating conjunctions.  Heck, I even scored ‘limited’ (1 out of 5) on my first grade “writing proficiency” exam.  Needless to say, my teacher at the time wasn’t too thrilled with my performance!

As though by magic, much of this changed when I entered eleventh grade.  English class began to ‘click’ with me, and I started to develop a growing appreciation for it.  By then, I learned that I could use language as a vehicle for my thoughts; a conduit for my ideas.  My newly vested interest in English helped me get a good mark in grade 11, and an even better mark in grade 12.  In fact, I ended up scoring a perfect 100% on the ‘written/essay’ portion of my twelfth grade provincial exam.  Needless to say, my teacher at the time was extremely thrilled with my performance! (Something she had never seen done before in her 20 years of teaching) … Take that first grade exam!

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Course:  English 122 – Texts and Contexts

Instructor:  Marco Katz

Books:  A Canadian Writers Reference – by Hacker (4th ed) ; Poems From Guantanamo: The Detainees Speak – by Falkoff (1st ed) ; A Small Place – by Kincaid (1st ed) ; The Tempest: A Case Study in Critical Controversy – by Shakespeare, edited by Phelan and Graff (2nd ed) ; Wide Sargasso  Sea – by Rhys (11th ed)

——–

Review:

Despite my high-school success in English, I was still drawn in by the hearsay produced by the people around me.  I was effectively hypnotized by the alluring cacophony of shudders and groans that people made when discussing the prospect of taking yet another English class (and this time, it would be at the University level to boot).  Hearing all the ‘doom and gloom’ forecasts about undergrad English made me think twice about when I should take it.  Should I do it in first year and get it over with?  Maybe delay it until 4th year?

Well, I eventually made a reluctant decision to just get it over and done with, and chose to do it in my first year.  I went into English 122 expecting to be absolutely pulverized!  Instead, however; my glum expectations were proven to be absolutely wrong.

The class was unlike Chem 101 and Bio 107; for one, it only had 40 students!  In addition to this, it was not graded on a Bell Curve, meaning that we were only competing against ourselves, and not against others.  It gave me the impression that I was back in high-school, which was a nice change for once, to say the least.  Lastly, it had a set ‘theme’.  Apparently, every English 122 class has a different ‘theme’ in which the entire course is based around.  Our theme that year was: “Caribbean Re-Creations”.

The professor, Marco Katz, is arguably the best professor at the UofA (not sure if he still teaches ENGL 122; I took it in the Fall 2009 semester).  By the end of the term, a lot of us were on a first name basis with him; he built an excellent rapport with us students.  Our grades were determined by (super easy) in class quizzes, participation on an online discussion board, a ‘conference’, 2 essays, and a final exam.

For the ‘conference’ portion, we were to write a two page paper about life in Antigua, as it related to the book, A Small Place.  We were then assigned a date in which we would sit in front of the class and read our papers out loud.  After which, our classmates were encouraged to ask us questions about our papers.  It may sound tough, but it truly wasn’t.  (Most of the class ended up getting A/A+ marks for the conference)

The essays were also not difficult to succeed on.  We were required to complete an “anonymous peer-review” process in which we would randomly swap our essays with another student.  In so doing, we would type up a one page critique of that person’s essay and ‘anonymously’ hand it back to them.  As long as we participated in this process, we were awarded an automatic 50% for our essays (making it virtually impossible to fail the course).

The final exam was also a ‘walk in the park’.  The professor told us beforehand that he would be going immediately on vacation after the end of the semester … because of this, he stated that he would be in a ‘very good mood’ when marking our exams, and would be highly lenient (need I say more about the awesomeness of this class?)

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Class Average:  ~ B+  (3.4 GPA)

My Grade:  A+  (4.0 GPA)

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  1. July 28, 2011 at 5:10 pm

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