The End of a Semester

The end of a semester is better sweet. Or at least that’s what a student in my Intro to Lit class said today. I was often exhausted on our Tuesdays and Thursdays, bearing a teaching hangover from the four classes I teach Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, but it was quite fun, and I told them so. I told them how proud I was every time they had an audible “aha” moment. They really sound more like “ah! OH!” I was really proud of their interpretations, their willingness to try something new, and their occasional excitement.

Today was a good day. It was the last day of talking about Natasha Trethewey’s Thrall and also the day I hand out final exams. I give them the questions in advance and they can bring their annotated books and one sheet of notes with an index of page numbers and passages that they want to use as support for their papers.

I was really proud of myself for the exam I made. And a little hesitant that I might be overshooting things a bit. But more on that later.

I introduced our wrap-up session by saying that as I’d read Thrall while prepping for class, I started to notice how many binary oppositions there are in the book. Yup, last day of class, I introduce binary oppositions. They were tentative, so we tried out coming up with a few in general, unrelated to the book, but almost immediately students were calling out binary opposition patterns: white/black, father/daughter, new world/old world, painter/painted, examiner/examined, alive/dead, betrayal/faithfulness, and so on. Ah, it was fun!

And then I passed out the exam. I was so proud of it because it reminded me of the kinds of exams I had in college. It starts


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