I've just finished grading all my final exams and final essays, which means that I'm about an hour away from being totally and entirely done with my grading for the semester. (I still have to enter those grades into my online gradebook, but since said gradebook is, as aforesaid, online, I don't actually have to calculate course grades--it does it all for me!)
But since 'tis the season and all that, I thought I'd share the most tragic of the many missteps that I encountered in these two batches of finals. This is one of the IDs from my Brit Lit exam:
“Nay, nay,” quod he, “thanne have I Cristes curs!
Lat be,” quod he, “it shal nat be, so theech!* may I prosper
Thou woldest make me kisse thyn olde breech
And swere it were a relik of a saint,
Thought it were with thy fundament* depeint.*” anus; stained
So, pretty easy, right? We'd even discussed the ending of the Pardoner's Tale in class in some detail, but since it was two and a half months ago, I felt that giving the marginal glosses was appropriate--and I even snickered a little to myself about how you can tell a truly awesome exam by the fact that it has the word "anus" in it somewhere.
Most of my students did indeed recognize the passage. A few misidentified it as coming from the Miller's Tale, which I suppose I understand--it's still Chaucer, after all, and it's true that the MT also involve both anuses and kissing. But I had not one, but TWO students who misidentified this passage as coming from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. You know: when Gawain and his host's beautiful wife trade kisses.
Okay, so--what part of that "you'd make me kiss your old, shit-stained underwear and swear it was the relic of a saint" reminds you of our chivalrous friend Gawain, exactly?
I was also told by another student that a passage from "Corinna's Going A-Maying" (which the student correctly identified by title and author and said otherwise smart or at least accurate things about) provided an example of that popular theme in Cavalier poetry, "ceasing the day."
Yeah. I'm about ready to cease the day myself.