Tuesday, April 30, 2013

On My First College Paper, and my Last.

My dorm room, freshman year.
 It's Tuesday night, and I'm about to start writing a ten page paper due Friday. The topic of the paper is race and poetry, the two things I have been the most fascinated by in my time at Beloit College (and in life, I guess). What I've enjoyed the most about writing papers at Beloit is that the prompts are (especially in the case of research and longer papers) often open-ended. I've written papers imagining Malcolm X's ideal political community through the lens of Plato's Republic. I've written papers about my favorite poets and presidents.

The shrine Emily and I made in the library sophomore year. I think the photo
 in the cow's mouth is a photocopy of Emily's passport. Everything else speaks for itself.
Once, I wrote an eight page paper about FDR's fireside chats, and I sent it to my mother to proofread the day before it was due. She sent it back to me with a ton of really legitimate criticisms around 7 p.m. that day, and I had plans to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 at midnight that night. It was opening night and those plans weren't going to change. So, after the movie, Emily and I wrote a review for The Round Table and then I rewrote my entire paper. (I cared about FDR too much to not write a great paper about him.) Since then, papers haven't seemed that difficult.

I took this while writing that FDR paper.
My ironic "Ke$ha" phase coincided with reading Uncle Tom's Cabin 
I almost didn't graduate from high school on time. I never wrote any "essays" or did homework or even went to class, really. My first essay at Beloit terrified me. It was a compare and contrast of two movies we watched during my Freshman Orientation retreat. (I started at Beloit in January of 2009 and it was negative 40 degrees for pretty much that entire week.) The movies were Amelie and Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, neither of which had anything to do with the topic of the class, "Creativity, Jazz, and Entrepreneurship."

My computer desk, Junior year. (I think?)
Back then, I thought writing good papers was about, apparently, making large generalizations and hoping the professor just didn't read very carefully and being very, very corny and verbose. That's what made it so bad (that, and the numerous typos I just found while re-reading it). Anyways, here are some of those generalizations from the first paper I wrote at Beloit College--turned in on Feb. 1, 2009. Hopefully, this last one will be better.

  • "Amelie plays for fun, for love;"
  • "a strong need to not be lonely controls almost everything they do."
  • "Colin is extremely haunted by his father’s death" (Extremely haunted? How?)
  • "along the way, she realizes that she has to make herself happy, as well." (This exact end to a sentence has had to have been in about ten thousand different reviews of Amelie, I'm sure.)
  • "Colin, on the other hand, can hardly even slightly agree to get a job when Audrey suggests it. He’s selfish and stubborn and starting to reek of his father’s sort of choices." 
  • "Amelie and Colin are both young, independent people, trying to make more out of lives that always seemed doomed." 
  • Colin’s movie ends in a dark room, dirty, working-class hands pulling at gas masks. (This is the last line of the paper. Yes, I've always been a positive person.)