I’ve been teaching English literature and writing at the college level for a long, long time; and, like most of my tribe, I have over the years amassed an impressive collection of, what? student bloopers… horrors… howlers… “fizzies,” as colleagues at one school term them…

Confronted with my corrections, comments, questions, many students respond, “But you knew what I meant!” Ah, usually I did—that’s why I found the originals so funny.

And what masochistic fun it is to share them. That’s one of the intentions of this blog.

The other intention is to think seriously about them, because no student in my experience ever intended to turn in a paper offering illiteracies and bizarre misprisions—despite the stumbles, the writer does “mean .” As Mina Shaughnessy wrote years ago, behind the error is the writer’s expectation, a belief that he or she has said something.

Long before Prof. Shaughnessy,  T.S. Eliot wrote

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow…

Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow…

The intention of this blog is to examine the shadow—not only the shadow that comes between the writer’s intention and the actual utterance, but also the distracting shadow-pictures that dance between the mind of the reader and the text.

For a longer discussion of my motives and methods, see my first post, “This should be one of the easier tests to do, because there is nothing involved, but thinking.”

Your comments, and your contributions from your own collection, are welcome.

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