13 February 2014

External validation

Clevel Grethel, the cook with a slight addiction issue...

I never thought I'd forget how it feels to wait for an expected grade, but guess what, I did. It's only because of the Coursera course (details) that I felt the sensation again: extreme impatience to know what someone else thought of my work -- in this case, a 300-word essay about the Grimm Brothers'  "Kinder- und Hausmärchen"/"Children's and Household Tales" (check out the Lucy Crane translation with her husband's illustrations).

The maximum grade on the essays is 6: they are scored either 1, 2 and 3 on both form and content (with 3 being the highest, rare, and 1 the lowest, also should be rare according to the professor).  My result was a 4 and included some spot-on critiques: yes, I didn't really have a conclusion,  can't fault you for noticing. I could have stated my thesis more bluntly? Well I could have, if I had understood better what is was. The peer reviewers should get points for their reviews! I don't blame anyone for not giving me a 3. Although someone would have given me 2.5s, which was great to hear.

My main interests in this course are: the way science fiction and fantasy use food (for example Harker, in Dracula, is a real little foodie), setting (city vs country, anyone?), and the influence of cultural/historical context on both text and the type of fantasies expressed (did you now, for example, that  the Grimm Brothers collected the stories as "folklore" at the time when the urge for German unification was at its peak? Well they did.).

Beyond these things, I'm also interested in what makes these stories and books so appealing and successful on the page. Why did the authors present their stories in the way that they did? Why did they chose a particular style or form? What can I steal learn from them?

Oh yeah, and I wouldn't mind getting a 5 or a 6 on one of these essays.

The Mouse, the Bird and the Sausage... spoiler alert: it does not end well

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