Teaching Fellows in the English Department yesterday expressed "distress" at the way senior Honors theses were distributed to Faculty readers. "It is unfortunate," said one, "that theses on modern authors were given to tutors whose interest and competence lies in an earlier period."
Walter J. Bate '39, Chairman of the Department, explained that the number of Honors theses submitted has jumped from around 75 to 105 in a single year, "creating some pressure on our graders." In addition, whereas undergraduates tend to prefer the modern period, many teaching fellows specialize on "earlier, more traditional writers."
The theses were distributed among the graders in a "rather bureaucratic and impersonal manner," said one teaching fellow. In consequence, some tutors received theses in areas "where they were not terribly well prepared." He suggested holding an annual meeting at which the theses would be parceled out.
Acknowledging the problem, John M. Bullitt '43, Head Tutor of the Department, pointed out that if any tutor is dissatisfied with a thesis grading assignment; he can either return it to the office, or trade with another tutor. Several teaching fellows said they had traded, to their mutual satisfaction.
A second teaching fellow, who termed this year's distribution "rather random in some cases," questioned the practicality of a graders' assignment meeting. "With such a large group," he said, "such a session could degenerate into chaos." It would be better, he suggested, to prepare a list of thesis topics submitted, send the list to all graders, and ask them to indicate their specific preferences.
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#tbt: Ivy League Pranks