Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Alumni Benefits

This year, I was asked to be the judge of Delta State University's Confidante Literary Competition, formal essay division. It's a full-circle kind of thing for me because I won first place in that division when I was an undergraduate there.

Judging's a lot different than grading. It doesn't take nearly as much time. Basically, it is a process of elimination. I don't have to read very far into an essay to know whether or not it's top quality. If I'm not impressed, I set it aside. The more difficult part comes when I've narrowed down the competition to a couple of really good essays. Then, the hard work begins. I'm supposed to name a first place and a second place, and Honorable Mentions are allowed if I feel they are merited.

I've judged this competition once before, and the first time was much harder. I had two essays that were just excellent. I literally agonized over which one to give first place and which to give second, only to find out later that both essays had been written by the same student. Wasted angst.

This time, the essays didn't quite reach that same level of excellence, but there were some really good essays. I thought you might like to see what's being written about at good ol' DSU this year. Here are the titles:

  1. Julius Caesar: Blocks and Stones, Inflamed
  2. The Women of James Joyce's "Counterparts"
  3. "Nothing is right here!" A Feminist Approach to Esperanza Rising
  4. "A True Account of How Things Were": Natasha Trethewey's Poetry
  5. Understanding Jane Austen
  6. Love Relationships in Dubliners
  7. Hrothgar and Beowulf: Now those are Good Kings
  8. Stephenie Meyer: An Author with Bite!
  9. Women in Chopin's Fiction
  10. The English Novel: A Continuance of English Literature from the Beginnings through the Eighteenth Century
  11. A Powerful Seduction (an analysis of seduction by power in Chaucer's "The Pardoner's Tale," Marlowe's Dr. Faustus, and Shakespeare's Macbeth")
  12. Holy Perversion (an analysis of Joyce's use of Christianity to highlight corruption in "The Boarding House")
  13. Green-Eyed Innocence (an analysis of three of Joyce's stories about a young male narrator's journey towards adolescence)
  14. "O, These Men, These Men": Male Insecurity and Weakness in Othello
  15. Government Involvement in Student Loans
  16. Digging Deep for the Brain Pickers: Analyzing the Zombie Metaphors and Violent Mayhem in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Interesting list, no? And if you've wondering about all the James Joyce, Dubliners is the text for DSU's Advanced Comp class, so he always gets a good showing.

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