Ancrene Wiseass

A would-be medievalist holds forth on academia, teaching, gender politics, blogging, pop culture, critters, and whatever else comes her way.

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Location: United States

Yes, this really is yet another blog by a disillusioned grad student. I sympathize, but that's just the way it has to be. For hints as to what my bizarre alias means, click here and here and, if needed, here and here. To get a sense of what I'm up to, feel free to check out the sections called "Toward a Wiseass Creed" and "Showings: Some Introductory Wiseassery" in my main blog's left-hand sidebar. Please be aware that spamming, harassing, or otherwise obnoxious comments will be deleted and traced.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Why can't Johnny write a thesis statement? And what can we do about it?

I am distressed.

Although I'm teaching an upper-division Shakespeare class composed largely of juniors and seniors, I've had repeated requests to explain what a thesis statement is, how to acquire a good one, why even complex observational statements are not thesis statements, and so on.

One explanation that had crossed my mind was that this was a stalling tactic: i.e., that the students really did know how to write a thesis statement, but that they were acting as though they didn't as a way of procrastinating. You know, "How can I possibly start working on my term paper if you haven't even told me how to write a thesis yet?"

But now that I'm actually getting a closer look at what my students seem to think is a well-thought-out thesis statement, I'm starting to believe that they really don't know how to do it. And I am, therefore, alarmed.

When I've taught lower-division courses in the past, I've always spent a good amount of time discussing this topic, but I assumed both that (1) my job in an advanced class was to focus more on the literature than on skills and that (2) upperclassmen would already know how to construct a solid thesis statement. Apparently, I was wrong on at least count #2.

It would seem, then, that we're turning out English majors who don't know how to make a well constructed argument about texts. That's the equivalent of producing a Chemistry major who can't write a decent lab report.

WTF? How is this happening? Is the five-paragraph-essay brainwashing students get in high school nearly impossible to overwrite? Are they just not getting the one-on-one time or the feedback they need to turn the information they hear from instructors into actual practice? Are we really failing that catastrophically to teach one of the most basic skills in our discipline? If so, why? How do we fix it?

I'm doing lots of emergency instruction in thesis writing this week, lest I end up reading 42 term papers without a real argument. In the meantime, I'm both befuddled and deeply concerned.


UPDATE: Although I and quite a few of my colleagues do spend time on such issues in our lower-division and writing-intensive classes, feedback from troops here on the ground seems to indicate that many others do not. I find this little short of criminal.

Dammit. I thought I was already nearly as disilllusioned as I could possibly be. This is so depressing.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Movie poll: What are you watching?

Having pointed out that Thanksgiving weekend is a traditional movie-watching holiday, Dr. B has a great post about bad movies, in which she asks readers to share the "difficult and . . . revealing category" of "movies that everyone else thinks are awful, but which you actually really like." I pitched my vote in with the "Starship Troopers" camp, which is apparently so gratifyingly large that I wonder if that film actually can count as one that "everyone else thinks is awful."

I'd like to propose a different poll: What are you watching this Thanksgiving, and how do you like it? Should the rest of us watch it, too?

Here's what I've seen so far:

1) Das Kabinett des Doktor Caligari (1920, silent)--Although the story isn't all that engrossing, the art direction is fantastic. The sets were amazingly trippy, the costuming and makeup were inspiring (I'm thinking of taking some tips from Lil Dagover's outfitting next Halloween), and Tim Burton's debt to Robert Wiene for much of his best work is pretty clear.

2) Abre los ojos (1997)--I really liked this. In fact, I think I'm becoming a fan of Alejandro Amenabar, having ordered this movie from Netflix after seeing Boy Roomie's copy of "The Others" a while back.

The story of what happens to a wealthy, vain, shallow playboy as he starts to realize what a non-person he is after his handsome face is mutilated in an accident, this film also features a complex plot having to do with cryogenics and dream-states. Very Philip K. Dick, but maybe even better--Dick's character development is rarely so complex or compelling.

Apparently inspired by Hitchcock's "Vertigo," the movie got re-made by Cameron Crowe as "Vanilla Sky," but I'm not inclined to watch the revision, since most reviews indicate that the Hollywood version attempts to make the main character more likeable (which would defeat the entire purpose of the film, in my opinion).

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Holiday

For those of you who're celebrating Thanksgiving, here's hoping it's a good one. For those of you who aren't, here's hoping you have a good long weekend ahead of you. And for those of you who don't have that, here's hoping you'll have the patience to put up with the rest of us and that you've got some time off in the near future.

And for Badger, Dorcasina, Wonder Woman, and my uncle who's in hospice care--and for all the people who love them--I'm thinking of you and hoping today will be as peaceful as possible.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The absent-minded un-professor and other signs of a fried brain

I seem (knock on wood) to have left behind the portion of the quarter during which I keep losing things, only to exchange it for the portion of the quarter in which I fall over or bump into things (sometimes without even noticing or remembering). My collection of bruises is getting impressive enough that I'm wondering whether I might as well go play a game of paintball or try to get hired as an extra for a "Lifetime" made-for-TV movie.

If the truck were road-worthy, I'm pretty sure I would have forgotten to fill the gas tank, run out of fuel altogether, and had to hike to the nearest station with the plastic gas can I keep in the back for that purpose.

I went to the drug store tonight after a half-day on campus and bought the latest issues of this, this, and this, as well as a bottle of this and one of these. I decided things weren't quite bad enough to justify buying the latest issue of Vogue, especially because I was unusually repelled by the Keira-Knightley-as-undead-Dorothy-Gale photo essay. But when I'm buying magazines because I can't bring myself to read even the front matter for one of the dozen books I just picked up at the library and I devolve into wanting to have pouty lips and smell like a cookie . . . well, I think that's a sign that things have gone plenty far enough, thank you.

It's a good thing the holiday is coming up in a couple of days.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Midterm Essay

I have finally finished grading the damn midterms, having realized for the gazillionth time that I make the entire process far more heinous than it needs to be just because I hate grading so disproportionately. I mean, hell, it's a lot of hard work. But I really don't think it has to make me feel like a cartoon coyote who just got an anvil dropped on his head every day for a week.

Until very recently, I kept thinking that the problem was a lack of efficiency--my general tendency to be excruciatingly thorough about things and to try to tackle even gigantic projects all in one stretch. But ultimately, I think this is a problem rooted more in psychology than in methodology.

'Cause when I get down to it, boy, I can fly through a stack of essays. ("Did the student actually make a cogent argument from the beginning and tie it up reasonably in the end? Is it well supported? Is it well organized? Does it contain any major errors or ignore any major pieces of evidence? Does it show signs that it got proofread at least once? Okay, on to the next one.") And when I go back to double-check them, I may tweak two or three a third of a grade up or down, but that's about it. So I know I can be quick and accurate.

Maybe the problem is that, despite having a solid track record, I still just don't entirely trust myself to evaluate students' work. Who the hell am I, after all?

Well, I guess the answer, as bizarre and sometimes unwelcome as it seems to me, is that I'm an authority figure, at least to the small segment of Big City U's undergrads who land in my classrooms. I've acted like it enough during my on-duty time to believe it while I'm in the classroom or holding office hours. But stacks of metaphorically (and sometimes--though rarely--literally) bloodied, sweat-sprinkled, tear-bedewed papers hulking on my bedroom dresser still make me quail a little.

And maybe that's not such a bad thing. The grades these stacks of paper earn don't--as I constantly remind my students--mean that I do or don't like the people who wrote them, that those people will or won't make $5oK a year, that those people are clever or dimwitted. What the grades do indicate is how much knowledge and innovation each student manage to fit into a well-organized, reasonably polished format within a certain space of time while dodging whatever life's throwing at them.

But, taken as an aggregate, the grades students earn really can make a difference: a scholarship denied or awarded, a job offered or withdrawn, a major pursued or abandoned, an ego boosted or shattered.

Given, the ball is mostly in the students' court. Grades, when assessed fairly, are earned rather than given, and only the student can determine how much diligence, enthusiasm, time, and style goes into preparing and performing these exercises. But still, the exercises do mean something, and it's my responsibility to make sure they get evaluated with an appropriate mixture of justice and mercy.

I guess I still have some work to do before I believe, at least a little more, that I really am an authority in my own little matchbox corner and that I've earned the right to be one.

I'm looking forward to coming more into my own as a teacher, but I also hope that an ungraded pile of papers never ceases to make me feel a little bit awestricken.

Sunday, November 20, 2005


"I loved teaching, but it was the hardest work I had ever done, and it was all I did. If you're a teacher, you're teaching, you're getting ready to teach, or you're correcting papers."
--Kate Clinton, from an interview in Bitch magazine.

Holla' Back, NYC

New Yorkers tired of street harassment started this brilliant site last month, having gotten the idea from a woman named Thao Nguyen, who snapped a picture of a man who exposed himself to her on the subway and then posted it on her photoblog. The photo subsequently was published on other sites and in New York's daily papers, resulting in the arrest of Dan Hoyt after he was picked out of a lineup by four separate women to whom he'd also allegedly exposed himself.

The site invites victims of all descriptions and of all levels of harassment to photograph or sketch their harassers if possible and in any case to write up a description of the incident, then send the post for inclusion on the site. And they're posting on occurrences from outside the city, too.

I wish I'd known about this site and had my camera at the ready a few days ago when one freakishly persistant 60-something fellow tried to talk me into taking "private French lessons" from him as I waited for the bus, sang things to me in French about pretty girls at bus stops hooking up with chivalrous strangers (which he then, of course, translated for me with relish), grabbed my bag and carried it on "for me" when the bus arrived (I managed to quickly recover it with a muttered thanks while he was fishing for change), walked all the way to the back to sit next to me (despite my obvious attempts to get away), stared me up and down as I desperately tried to bury myself in a journal article, and then loudly muttered "ungrateful girl" as he got off at his stop.

Well, next time, I will know about it, thanks to Quench 'Zine.

The accounts at this site probably will sound all too familiar to all too many women, in particular. But please be forewarned that many of them are disturbing,

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The birthday box(es) runneth over

Earlier this week, the folks back home proved that their own gifting ability is not to be denied when I received not one, but two, boxes in the mail. I've been blessed with new clothes, loads of actually decent snack food (which will help me avoid raiding the deplorable campus vending machines for weeks), anti-rodent devices, a set of much-needed drinking glasses, and all sorts of other extremely useful things which I probably wouldn't buy for myself but am terrifically glad to have.

I also got some lovely cards and the time-honored present of some cold, hard currency. Believe me, nothing warms the grad-student cockles in quite the same way as a bit o' green. I'll be applying it to credit card balances and the truck-rehabilitation fund.

And, I've also learned that Octavia Butler's Xenogenesis trilogy and Evangeline Walton's Mabinogion Tetralogy will arrive around the end of the month. Guess I know what I'll be reading during the winter break!

Boy Roomie weighed in with a lovely and substantial hip flask, which I plan to deploy at the next possible opportunity after filling it with Powers.

Following in Morgan's footsteps, I also presented myself with a few "imps" of perfume oil from these folks. I highly recommend "Anne Bonny." Smells fantastic, named after a pirate queen, and made by a company named "Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab." What's not to like?

Today, I'm off on a little train trip with Geek Boy to wander the streets of a much smaller city for a while. I'll probably be grading on the way there and back, but it'll still be a welcome change.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Wonder Woman surgery update

My cousin, whom I hereby dub Wonder Woman* for blog purposes, had surgery today. It took seven hours, and the doctors were unable to remove all of the tumor: some of it had grown into her skull and removing other portions might have caused neurological damage.

The tumor was apparently very aggressive and well nourished with blood vessels, and the surgeons said they were glad they'd decided to cut off most of the blood flow to the area earlier in the week. Tomorrow, WW will have an MRI and further testing to determine how to proceed from here, but it's very likely that she'll begin radiation treatments in an attempt to kill off what's left of the tumor and prevent re-growth, if possible.


*This is both an accurate characterization and the name of her favorite superhero; as a pageant contestant, WW once did an absolutely stunning--and very cheeky--dance routine which involved both the Wonder Woman swimsuit and a lasso.

Giving her this epithet has the added benefit of allowing me to dub her babies (one girl, one boy) the Wonder Twins.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

They told me not to run around with carnies . . .

. . . but thank goodness I ignored their advice.

Issue 3 of The Carnival of Feminists is up over at Sour Duck, and I've got an essay in it, as do Twisty, Dr. B., Jill of Feministe, my good friend Dr. V., and loads of people whose work I haven't read before but am delighted to be learning about now.

Head on over there and check it out. Good stuff.

UPDATE: I've also been honored with a spot in Issue 3 of The Teaching Carnival, which contains many excellent posts and a slew of pedagogical resources. Thanks to Scrivener for setting it up!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

A realization

I am going to have to go cold turkey on the prospectus until I finish this mountain of grading.


Geek Boy's mad present-giving skillz still in evidence

An early birthday present, this came in the mail yesterday.

All hail Geek Boy!

Attack of the Vegetables


I'm inudated with butternut squash and eggplant!

I bought said comestibles from this week, sight unseen, and apparently HomeGrocer deals in ginormous vegetables (and maybe I've also forgotten how big these things are, since I haven't used either for a long time).

I have one recipe in mind that will use both, but I'm clearly going to have to make more than one dish featuring butternut squash and/or eggplant. I found this one online, and it looks good, but I don't have a trivet that will fit inside my crock pot, and damned if I'm going to go out looking for one.

Any ideas?

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Another member of the blogging community is in mourning

Dorcasina's husband has passed away.

Cousin update

The surgery will be at 10am tomorrow morning, and I'll post information here as I get it.


UPDATE: Surgery has been postponed until 8am on Thursday.

Jaguar: Hideous, not Gorgeous

So. Jaguar has a new ad campaign called "Gorgeous."

I know this because Geek Boy and I went to see "Pride and Prejudice" last night, and the ad was one of the ones shown before the trailers.

This thing is one of the most offensive pieces of tripe I've seen in my varied life.

For a description, I shall switch over briefly to the prose of Mark Rechtin, who nicely encapsulated the feel of the thing in an article for AutoWeek:

Leggy supermodels recline vacuously on chaise longues. Their unspeakably attractive friends attend a lavish dinner party. The Jaguar resides in the owner's stable, alongside the Agusta helicopter and Lurssen megayacht. . . .

Actor Willem Dafoe repeats the word often in his voiceover narration of one of the ads."Gorgeous makes effort look effortless. Gorgeous has no love for logic. Gorgeous gets in everywhere. Gorgeous pays for itself in the first five
seconds. Gorgeous is worth it," Dafoe intones over a haunting keyboard track.

Rechtin is clearly irritated by the classist tone of the campaign, drily commenting that the ads, which are meant to shore up Jaguar's plummeting sales, "vividly portray the entitlement of the Dom Perignon-swilling elite, for whom material achievement is a given. They also subliminally cultivate the envy of the lower classes, for whom a Jaguar XJ sedan is as unattainable as a date with Penelope Cruz."

What Rechtin is missing here--pretty unsurprisingly, given his own metaphorical substitution of Penelope Cruz for a pricey motorcar--is that this ad also crassly objectifies women in a way that is truly breathtaking. The"leggy supermodels" are at the center of this show, with the association between woman and car being played up in every single shot. Where men appear in this commercial, they are usually just a flash of well-chiselled jawline, a high cheekbone in profile, a gesticulating hand. The focus is either on the langorous, sleek women or the fast, sleek cars, all of them served up to the viewer like so much Beluga caviar.

Given, the supermodels in question are a multiethnic lot, though the more traditionally WASPy type of woman we might expect to be promoted as "a luxury model" gets plenty of screen time. But if this is an attempt at being "alluring and contemporary" (as the campaign press release puts it), it falls flat on its face. Objectifying a wider range of women does not represent an improvement on the time-honored model.

And, as the stalking, lounging, or elegantly slouching women make a display of themselves in oh-so-blase fashion, Defoe is telling us that they "make effort look effortless," "have no love for logic," "get in everywhere," "pay for themselves in the first five seconds," and are "worth it."

If Rechtin uncritically accepts (and even adopts) the appallingly sexist tone of this ad campaign, at least he picks up on some portion of the ad's repulsiveness. The only other piece I can find on this campaign blithely asserts that this ad results from the work of "bright, smart advertising agency counselors" and that "what sells is after all the bottom line for results."

Well, if the reaction of people in the audience last night was any indication, this ad will not be selling any cars anytime soon.

Dear readers, I am used to being the lone malcontent in such situations and have gotten far too practiced at either keeping my mouth shut so as not to disturb the "viewing pleasure" of others or, if I truly can't stand it, muttering sardonically to myself or to a sympathetic companion. I chose the latter route last night.

Fortunately, many other audience members were not so meek as Yours Truly. Though there was jaw-dropped silence throughout the ad itself, the final swell of music and the black screen which signaled the ad's end was greeted with loud hissing and booing. Morgan, who happened to watch another movie in the same theater at a later show, says that exactly the same thing happened when the ad played for that audience.

And that is why I love feminism. Because entire audiences now recognize and vocally reject this hideously unprincipled "what-sells-is-after-all-the-bottom-line-and-high-class-twat-sells" approach to advertising. And because plenty of people are willing to be "impolite" in order to do it.


Let's hope Jaguar's attempts to cure its sagging sales with the promise of firm, young, affluent booty fail mightily. But if you've seen the ad and want to do more than just be pissed off, here's how to write to Jaguar with a complaint.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Blog against racism on Dec. 1

Chris Clarke has declared Dec. 1 (the 50th anniversary of Rosa Parks's arrest in Montgomery) "Blog Against Racism" day, " in which people post something on the very broad and complex subject of racism." I'm planning to participate, somehow, and wanted to pass the word along.

Fucking cancer

My dear cousin--the one with the smart mouth and the little twin babies--has a brain tumor.


UPDATE, 11/12/05: MRI results indicate that the tumor is not actually inside the brain, but rather just outside it, and the doctors think it's benign. Thank God. The operation will probably be either today or tomorrow, and I'll post results here.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Overheard at the Clinique counter

Clinique gal: Hey Stacey! How ya doin? How's school?
Stacey: It SUCKS!
Clinique gal: Really? Why? I thought you were doing what you love!
Stacey: Apparently, grad school is all, like, hard and stuff. Nobody told me.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Two things

ONE I am almost ridiculously happy that there's a Veteran's Day holiday on Friday, because it means I don't have to spend half of Thursday and nearly all of Friday on teaching, and I will be able to work on the prospectus and grade All. Day. Long.

Yes, I realize that's a sad-ass way to spend a day off, and I realize it's probably even more sad to be happy about it, but there you go. I will also stop and spare a thought or two (maybe even a phone call or email or two) for a veteran.

TWO I really need to start getting into bed earlier.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Seven Songs Meme

Courtesy of Morgan:
A Song Meme: "List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now. Post these instructions in your Livejournal along with your seven songs. Then tag seven other people to see what they’re listening to."

So. I am violating the instructions in two ways because this is not a Livejournal page and because I refuse to tag people who might get annoyed with me because they have other things to do. So I will imitate Morgan in yet another way by inviting people who need a break from whatever they're doing to follow suit and leave a comment to let me know where they posted their results. C'mon: gratify my curiosity. I hardly listen to music anymore and am trying to gradually re-introduce it into my world, so inspire me to buy new albums I can't afford! (Yes, I am an old fud who don't have an iPod, so I still buy entire albums.)

Here are my seven:

1) Tift Merritt, "Trouble Over Me" (from Bramble Rose)
2) Tift Merritt, "Virginia, No One Can Warn You" (Bramble Rose again--it's a good album!)
3) Neko Case, "Set Out Running" (from Furnace Room Lullaby)
4) Loretta Lynn, "Fist City" (from the MCA Best of collection)
5) Steely Dan, "Bablyon Sisters" (from A Decade of Steely Dan)
6) Earth, Wind, and Fire, "Got to Get You Into My Life" (Beatles cover, from The Best of Earth, Wind, and Fire, Vol. 1)
7) "Wayfaring Stranger," traditional

Monday, November 07, 2005

Blogospherical nuttiness and a deleted post

Dr. B. is under attack from conservative grad student Paul Deignan, who's threatening to discover and publicize her identity, sue her, and sue one of her commenters, Prof. Wallace Hettle. Deignan claims, on a very thin basis, that Dr. B. has made a libelous comment about him. He also claims, on a more substantial basis, that Hettle has threatened his career by contacting his academic supervisor about his behavior. This is, I think, a seriously questionable step on Hettle's part, even though I agree that Deignan was being trollish, insufferably condescending, and inappropriately ad hominem.*

The upshot? This is a big ol' mess, but it makes two things very clear: the need to stay anonymous (and careful) as a gradblogger and the potential dangers of running blog-based, politico-academic salons like Dr. B's, even under a pseudonym.

In other news, New Kid reports that one of her friends has been fired for having a blog--despite said blog's complete anonymity.

Perhaps it means I'm easily intimidated and don't deserve my self-administered title as a Wiseass, but I started thinking, in the light of such weirdnesses and because I hate to be misunderstood, that I ought to delete a post I made on Friday and the comments that went with it. I began to feel as if some of the responses I made in the comments could have been (and, perhaps, already were being) misinterpreted because I can't really contextualize them properly without either blowing my cover and/or blowing someone else's. If you were in on the discussion and want to add something, feel free to email me.


*I'm very sad to report that a number of Dr. B's supporters have been similarly inappropriate in their response to Deignan, by the way. His behavior was worthy of the censure Dr. B exacted, but calling him "a walking argument for abortion," making fun of his photo, and the like seem pretty unwarranted.

UPDATE (11/9/05): Already well on his way to proving himself a bit, well, clueless, Deignan has now added "sexual harassment" to his list of libel charges against Dr. B. Apparently, this is because she referred to him as a sexist in one comment and later referred to his repeated emails and trolling as harassment. Wow. He's really spinning out of control and well beyond the realm of logic, but the bigger this thing gets, the less willing he seems to be to back down.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

A strange new addiction

Okay. I have a confession to make.

My name is Ancrene Wiseass, and I'm a prospectaholic.

This is my new term for how I've come to feel about working on this prospectus. I don't want to do other things. I just want to work on my prospectus for eight hours a day, every day, until it's done. When I am not researching books or annotating books for my bibliography (which is the phase I'm tackling first), I am thinking about doing it and trying to figure out how to arrange things so that I can work on it for the longest possible period of time before my brain and/or body rebel against me. In other words, I am now daydreaming . . . about writing a dissertation prospectus.

I do not daydream about the prospectus because it's fun to work on. It's just that I'm actually in pain from the stress when I am not working on it. My back and neck knot up. I feel twitchy and unfocused. I get so unbearably grumpy that I can't stand to be with myself--which is unfortunate, since I don't have much choice in the matter. During daylight hours, unless I am completely exhausted, brain-dead, suffering from back spasms, asleep, and/or the library is closed, I want anybody and anything detaining me from walking the stacks to vanish.

Part of this is probably that I just so want to be done with this fool thing. Part of it is definitely that I'm tired of not being able to meet any of the deadlines I've set so far. Part of it is probably my almost psychotic desire to keep working around the clock until I finish whatever task I've started, no matter how long it takes.

At any rate, when I started digging back into this project a few weeks ago, the following statement--and many others just like it--scared the crap out of me:

"My single-mindedness in researching and writing this book has entailed domestic and personal sacrifices and I am eternally at the behest of those who have allowed me the space to continue along this lonely path."

(Anthony Musson, from the Preface to Medieval Law in Context: The growth of legal consciousness from Magna Carta to the Peasants' Revolt.)
"Is that what I'm going to be like?" I thought. "I'll be unbearable when I'm with other people and terribly lonely when I'm not. I am going to turn into a Bona-Fide Jackass."

Well, folks, it would seem that the transformation has begun. The saving grace thus far is that I don't seem to notice the loneliness too much at this point: it's always kinda there in the background, especially after the first two or three hours, but it somehow doesn't matter a whole lot.

So, if I seem twitchy or unwarrantedly bitchy to any of you who happen to interact with me offscreen during the next couple of months and change, please accept my apologies in advance. I promise I'll tread as lightly as possible on all your toes.

A question

Okay, so here's an intriguing little mystery:

KindlyProf has given me the gratifying news that students are singing my praises to him, coupled with the rather odd news that every single one of these praise-singers has been male. KP asked whether I had an unusually high proportion of men in my class, and I told him I thought I actually had a few more women.

In fact, after checking my rolls, I find that I have only about 1/3 men and 2/3 women, so my curiosity has been piqued. Is it possible, as I proposed to KP, that men may just feel more comfortable with voicing an opinion (whether positive or negative) of their instructors?

I suppose it's also possible that my female students simply don't like my teaching style as much, but I really think I have pretty good rapport with at least those women who've been coming to see me during office hours, and women do seem to be speaking up in class.

What do you think, O Internets? I seek your wisdom.