Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Chronicle Outtakes

Welcome to readers visiting the website from my most recent column in The Chronicle of Higher Education. The column I originally submitted to my editor contained a fuller list of parody television shows, as well as fuller descriptions of some of those shows that you saw. The version the editors sent back to me was cleaned of shows or sentences that were either scatological or potentially libellous. Naturally those were my favorite parts. So, thanks to the wonders of the interweb, I can give you the original versions, as well as some deleted outtakes.

1) My favorite part of the Mythbusters show was the third example, which was cut:

Campus Mythbusters: Is the library really sinking a little bit every year at Rival U. because the architects failed to take into account the weight of all the books? Did a student really go into the final exam of a large lecture course in which he wasn’t enrolled, and then pretend to go mad and run out screaming in the middle of the test? Should students in the dorm rooms really flush twice because the waste products have to make it all the way to the dining hall for use in the dinner menu? Our quirky committee of investigators will take on all of the campus legends you heard when you were a student from a friend who was visiting from another campus, and who was totally and completely sure that it was a true story.

2. The full version of the Jersey Shore parody. My editors upgraded the participants from "stupid" to "dim," which seems kindhearted to me.

Jersey Shore Extension Campus: Snooki, Pauly D, the Situation and the rest of the gang take online courses during the off-season, attempting to better themselves through higher education. We follow our buff and suntanned learners as they log onto the computer, view online lectures and Powerpoints, sit quietly reading and highlighting textbooks, and taking final exams on campus. Thoughtful expressions, bouts of test anxiety, and high-spirited late-night debates about course content—our expert camera operators capture it all. Candid interviews with cast members about their studies, as well as a close analysis of their written work, reveal that the cast members are just around as stupid as they seem in their regular show.

3. I was much more insulting to Finding Bigfoot, which is the only show on this entire list which I actually watch religiously.

Finding Bigfoot Believers: A team of psychological investigators travels around the country in search of educated people who take the Bigfoot legend seriously. Using the most up-to-date technology in their nocturnal strolls around campus, our researchers accost drunken students and show them videos of Matt Moneymaker, the host of Animal Planet’s Finding Bigfoot, knocking blocks together and making Sasquatch howls. Measuring blood pressure and skin conductance levels, the team seeks to discover whether a college education actually improves the ability of students to spot bullshit when they see it.

Two other quick points for this February blog update.

First, two weeks remain to submit to the MLA panel I hope to co-sponsor at this year's MLA on new approaches to teaching the American and British literature survey courses. If you are doing interesting work in this area, I want to know about it. Please consider submitting or passing the word along to others.

Second, I am a recent and very happy convert to the joys of Twitter. If you have a Twitter account, keep up to date with all things teaching, learning, and cheating at @LangOnCourse.

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