The Stages of Grading

Debby Thompson in McSweeney's:

Stage I

Stage I begins in benign resentment. You’re determined, this time, not to let those 80 term papers and final exams destroy you. It won’t be like the last grading marathon at semester’s end. You will stay in charge. You have 800 pages to grade, 400 on American Drama and 400 on Literary Theory. You take out your purple grading pen.

“Power serves as an overhanging subconscious,” says the first sentence. You experience your first twinges of pain. But it’s mild, still mild. You can still giggle at the assertion that “we adopt our social roles in order to panda to society.” You picture your social role—your teacher persona—as a black-and-white herbivore performing in a zoo for a crowd of unruly students. Then a character in a play you read this semester, you learn, suffers from “post-dramatic stress disorder.” He’s also in a “post-depressive state.” You’re still pre-, but barely.

Stage II

Stage II presents with mild but steady localized pain, mostly along the GI tract, and an inability to concentrate. Despair is still contained, but it’s eyeing the lymphatic system’s freedom train. Women are “co-modified.” Men are “discluded.” Role models are “immolated.” Passages are “taken out of context due to objective reality.” “Often times” is everywhere.

Bad things are happening to language.

Martin Luther King, Jr. is “African,” while Shakespeare’s Othello is “African American,” and Shylock is “a Hebrew.”

More here. [Thanks to Maeve Adams.]