If I had a dollar for every one of the ridiculous humanities writing assignments I was given while in college, I’d be fabulously wealthy. Here is a small sampling of the many humanities writing assignments I remember being given while in college. If I had my way, I would have written essays filled with snappy answers to the assignments to mock their ridiculousness.
Sentence fragments. Provide proof of five unique examples.
This assignment required the students to seek out sentence fragments. We were allowed to find them in advertising, magazines, newspapers, etc. Pretty much anywhere except the Internet. If the assignment allowed us to reference Internet examples, this assignment would be simple. They’re everywhere.
(There is a sentence fragment hidden in the above paragraph.)
Describe something new to come to your local grocers produce section.
This assignment required two things. First, to find something new at the produce section of the local grocery store, and second, to write about it. There was one small problem. I did not have a car, let alone any means of transportation. The store, a Kroger Supermarket, was a 45 minute walk from campus, through the bad part of town, and worst of all, past a 24-hour Taco Bell that was closed on Sunday, like pretty much everything else in West Virginia.
Unfortunately, the professor lived nearby, and also shopped at that same supermarket, so making something up was simply out of the question. I can’t recall what my essay was about, but I do recall getting a D on it simply because nothing new ever came to the store, let alone the produce section.
Well, I take that back… I once found Brie Cheese on sale as a “New / Trial Item”. I bought the only wedge, apparently, because it was discontinued soon thereafter, as was the “New / Trial” of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream.
What is your reaction to Planting A Vegetable Garden in Greenwich Village?
Midway through the semester, we were instructed to write an essay about our reaction to an article printed in The New Yorker Magazine. At this point, I thought that one of two things were happening here; either my professor has run out of ridiculous writing assignments, or he felt somehow obligated to introduce something intellectual into his class. I’d like to think the latter, though somehow I strongly doubt it.
The article, as I can recall was written about someone who decided to start riding his bicycle to work and plant his own vegetable garden in his back yard of Greenwich Village, in New York City. The focus of the article was about one writer who was going to do whatever he could to be more environmentally conscious, but at the same time, doubting that anyone else would do the same. It was the typical high-brow I’m better than you, and look, I have proof attitude of The New Yorker. This article from The New Yorker Magazine was perhaps the only one to ever have been included in my professors humanities class, and I’m almost certain that it was the last.
I cannot recall exactly what I wrote in my article, but I was given a B, simply because I had mentioned things about Greenwich Village that although were factual, and true, were not stated in the article, and therefore, beyond the scope of the assignment. Why the B? Simply stated on my paper was something to the effect of, “there’s no way you could have known this from reading the article.”
To which I casually questioned in class, pointing out that I had spent my childhood growing up in Greenwich Village, and I had proof. Frustrated, my professor tried to tell me what Greenwich Village, and New York City was really like, despite the fact that he had never even been there in his life.
So much for my faith in modern education.
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