Read boldened parts for tl;dr. So my semester is coming to a close; I've just wrapped up my final paper and exam for my Intro. to Literary Analysis course. As somebody who prides myself on being good with words, loves reading and really any form of storytelling, and who thinks of myself as an excellent A-grade writer, this class was a big kick in my ego's nuts. I put on my anonymous teacher-survey: I am walking away from this class a bit discouraged, and a bit worried, as I still do not understand what the professor wanted from me. Now, I haven't gotten the results of my final paper or exam back yet. But they're both submitted. Thus the class is over for me. It was organized as follows: each week you submit a four point paper on the textbook content discussed in class (literary theories like psychoanalytic, feminist, marxist, etc.). So for example, you read a few short-stories and one overview of a literary theory; for the 400-word paper that week, you select one of the short-stories and apply the concepts. But let me tell you, were the freaking expectations for these papers obscure. Not to mention there were no opportunities to draft and get direct feedback in advance, so if you do bad on it, you're screwed. And it would take him at least two weeks to get them all graded, at which point you've already submitted one, possibly two more of these weekly papers with no idea how you're performing. Anyway, this thread isn't just me bitching. I know there are other college students, college graduates, and even English teachers here on this forum. I really have no idea what this professor wanted from me, even in spite of attending the lectures, and during the second-half of the semester I met with him on three occasions to discuss individual assignments and trying to get his help. But I felt like he just spoke in vagueries and used $25 dollar words. His expectations, grading criteria and prompts were all impenetrable, and likewise with what little feedback he gave. He was a smart guy, but not a good teacher in my estimation. I ended up walking away from his course feeling like an idiot. It wasn't that I couldn't understand what I was reading in the textbook, and I could usually work-out the theme in a short-story or poem. But it started to seem like whether or not he agreed with what I was saying in a paper was part of the grading process. For example, I wrote an essay about Auden's "Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone" and how the poem's tone contributes to its theme. I came away with a Christian understanding of it; I was already a little bit familiar with Auden and knew he went to church, etc. I was meeting with my professor and discussing the paper, and he basically said that that was wrong. The idea that an interpretation of literature can be wrong is a bit confusing to me. On what basis? According to who or what? I mean, if the purpose of interpreting literature is to come to a *functional* understanding, and if a religious interpretation of Auden's poem is functional even though it may not be what the author intended (and my professor explained to us that "the author is dead" anyway, so not like that even matters), how is that "wrong"? The only thing I remember is he said that I should treat it as a math problem, which implied that there is only one correct answer. He also said something about if he, and his fellow faculty in his department looked at a poem, they should expect to all walk away with the same interpretation. The way he explained it sounded a lot like science-by-consensus. He said that my thesis needs to be something disputable, and I agreed with that, I already knew that. But it was like if he *did* disagree with your thesis or your interpretation or whatever case you're making in the essay, the more he disagreed, the worse of a grade you got. So what in the Hell kind of a Mickey-Mouse grading system is going on here? My interpretation about Auden's poem was that it was about a falling out-of-love with God, essentially. My professor's interpretation was that it was the loss of a love that constituted the speaker's whole world. I mean, honestly after talking about it for 30 minutes it sounded to me like we were splitting hairs, and that our interpretations may have been different in-part due to what we ourselves brought to the work. It was a pretty slippery slope from "the evidence doesn't support this" to "this is my interpretation and I'm going to assert it as the right one by way of argument-from-authority". I mean, the dude was smart, and I tried my best to work with him. But his expectations were unintelligible, and every paper I wrote, spending hours combined on reading the material and then trying to formulate and write a paper, seemed like a huge waste of time because I never once got WHATEVER IT WAS that he wanted me to be getting. Including the fact that there are still three that he hasn't graded, which I submitted back in OCTOBER. How am I supposed to improve if I still haven't gotten feedback on assignments I submitted on time, even after the class is done? For the final paper he said that the thesis needed to be something more than just "the poem uses x, y, and z to do x, y, or z." Like, I don't even know what to say about that. He explained that it was a comparative essay, and so that's what I did. He said that the thesis needed to be something that compares the two poems I chose. And honestly, after a semester of pure frustration and headache, I didn't even want to write the final paper. After three months I still had no idea what he wanted and so I know this final paper will go just like the other ones, whenever he gets around to grading it. Has anybody had similar experiences? Does anybody have advice? Should I prepare myself for more theories-classes where the expectations of the professors are impenetrable? I really tried, but I'm walking away from this class bitter and feeling like a failure, and dreading future classes of this kind. It's worth mentioning that I'd looked him up on ratemyprofessor I think it's called, and I'm far from the only student who's felt this way. He's not a bad person, and I think he was trying to help, but I didn't learn a damned thing about writing. All I learned was the content from the lectures, which was more or less regurgitated content from the textbooks that we were supposed to have already read. But in terms of applying the content, I do not know if I was misapplying the content, or if he just didn't like how I was applying it. I am uncertain if I'm a shit-writer, or if I'm just shit at writing how he wanted.