Tag Archives: philosophy

Marking: First year essays

When you’re a postgraduate student, you want to learn how to teach at a university level because you have this (not yet sarcastic) notion about having a career one day. Keeping this in mind, many senior academics play a funny joke and present you with the opportunity to teach first year classes instead.
As a result of this hilarious gag, you will be required to mark first year essays. This is the kind of thing you find in first year essays (these are direct quotes, which is why they’re bold):

“Aiming to honour the airman, the poem delineates the impotence and dilemma of oneself”

“this photograph is an immensely heart-wenching image.”

“the naked girl captures one’s attention immediately after one looked at the picture. Not only because naked people always capture one’s attention, but also because the situation in which the young girl appears undressed is on the way of escaping.”

“furthermore, the picture is not a solid one”

“throughout history War as a concept has typically been defined as fighting or conflict”

“Since the first camera was invented, people have been taking pictures in many activities for various purposes with diverse forms and contexts by using different tools and technologies”

“The many gods inherit human-like qualities, such as the ability to feel emotions; they laugh, they cry.”

Also, it’s very important to remember that all first years like the same words and phrases – and make sure they use them in a way that means absolutely nothing. Here are some examples:


diametrically opposed








Anyway, after senior academics have played their funny joke on you a few times, you might get to teach a second or even third year subject, where you’ll be shocked and amazed by how few students have progressed. Or alternatively, they’ll explain kindly to you that the newer postgraduate students need to be allowed a turn at teaching, and that in academia, everyone is allowed an equal turn because everything is very egalitarian. This is also a funny joke. What they are really saying is; “you can’t hack this shit, moron, go and find a job in a bank”.

How to Survive: teaching a subject you know nothing about

Having managed to survive the break between academic years with minimal government assistance, out-of-hand dismissal from potential employers all over the city and sheer determination, my department decided to kick me in the festering wounds by not giving me any teaching work.
Since I had also been rejected from other universities beside my own (I felt like I would take the rejection show around the state) interdepartmental subjects were my last resort. The problem with teaching an interdepartmental subject is that the majority of the course is outside your area of expertise. This has put me in the position of teaching a subject that (many of) my students know more about than me.

Huge potential for unprecedented humiliation. Nodding, smiling, agreeing and turning questions back on students will only take you so far.

Now, the obvious solution would be to make sure you read ahead of the students and do some extra research so you have an understanding of the general academic context in which you’re teaching and know the subject matter intimately.

But that’s a lot of work, and in my situation, extremely boring. So as an alternative, I am trialing a new method, in which, using a similar technique to the one I detailed in the post on “Stealth Teaching”, I zero in on the one aspect, or even word of the lecture I did understand in an academic context, like that one (mis)use of the word “assemblage” or “affect” and build my class plan around it. So far, it’s strained and awkward, but also effective (and hardly affective).

Popular Theorists: Alain Badiou’s Truth Serum (is poison)

I have to be honest with you. I know approximately nothing about Alain Badiou. This is because Alain Badiou is almost exclusively the domain of the serious-young-man.

But don’t worry, at least he’s attractive and fun:


If your chosen theorist has shit ideas, they should at least be hot, children.

So, he’s about as un-fun as you can get, and being a Zizek contemporary, he’s a big fan of pomo bashing, bringing back ‘truth’. I’m completely unable to take critical theory seriously. Nothing important should be taken seriously. Oscar Wilde taught us that. He was way smarter.

Sorry, I don’t believe in truth and I love postmodernism, it’s so fun and whimsical and creative and ironic. You can do whatever you want with it. At its best, gives you the potential for sedition, and for positivity and political activism. Plus I’m not a fan of Plato. Something about being a girl. (Joke.)

In the most successful, and also most conservative areas of philosophy, there are only serious young men, and the only people serious young men listen to are grumpy old men. Thus metanarratives are restored and the world is doomed.

If you are not one of them and you want to be a theorist, you’ll probably spend your whole life fighting them. Kisses.

But anyway, like I said, I know shit all about him, so feel free to correct me. That doesn’t mean his acolytes don’t make my skin crawl.