7/15/2006

Why I want to visit SJSU's English Department

I want to visit the Department of English & Comparative Literature at San Jose State University for the sole purpose of meeting Scott Rice, Ph.D. in person. Dr. Rice is obviously held in high esteem on the academic front, since he’s the Department Chair. His research interests cover the range of satire, grammar, British & European novels and commercialism in education.

Even more important, Scott Rice is the originator of the the world-famous Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, an annual competition for would-be writers that challenges them to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels.

The contest is named after a minor Victorian novelist, Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, whose novel Paul Clifford began with the (now-infamous) sentence:

"It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents--except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."
~
Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford (1830)

Inspirational words, aren't they!

In any case, you can find a whole lyttony (Scott Rice's pun, not mine) of the gems that were presented for consideration this year at the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest site, including the prose of Jim Guigli, this year's winner. Don’t miss the wonderful listings and examples from past winners and runner-up entries. They’re well worth the trip.

Just reading them serves as inspiration for me to try my hand in 2007. Then maybe I’ll get to make my trip to SJSU, and shake the hand of the man who made this all possible.

See my progress at: Department of English & Comparative Literature on 43places.com.

7 comments:

David said...

Forgive me for the off-topic reply, but I couldn't find a "Contact me" link to e-mail you directly. I just want to say that I'm enjoying your blog, and I'm flattered that you used "lexidiem" as its title and theme. Keep up the good work. I'll be reading!

DragonDude said...

Is there a minimum age for people to enter this contest? I know plenty of kids who would love to enter, and who could probably write as well (or worse?) than some of the entries.

Anonymous said...

For the love of God, DON'T go to SJSU. I am currently enrolled there as an English major and I can't stand it -- the worst single mistake I've made in the past five years.

I'm counting the days until I graduate and move on to a real school.

And yes, I'm posting anonymously. If you believe that SJSU welcomes anything less than positive feedback about their myriad problems, you are sadly mistaken.

JargonTalk said...

Dear Anonymous,

If you'll read my posting carefully, you'll note that I stated that "I want to visit the Department of English & Comparative Literature at San Jose State University for the sole purpose of meeting Scott Rice, Ph.D. in person."

I didn't state that I had any intention of attending any classes at SJSU. I'm sorry to hear that you're an English major there and that you "can't stand it."

What I don't understand is that you said it's "the worst single mistake" that you've made "in the past five years", that you're going to graduate "and move on to a real school." I was also an English major of sorts at one point, and though math isn't my primary forté, am trying to figure out what kind of degree you would be going for that's taking five years and that you'll have to "move on to a real school."

I have no problem with you posting anonymously, and have done the same from time to time. As far as SJSU welcoming "anything less than positive feedback about their myriad problems," I would be happy to hear from your contemporaries as well on this subject.

I, however, still want to go there and meet Scott Rice. My admiration for him and his contest has not diminished.

Anonymous said...

> I'm sorry to hear that you're an
> English major there and that
> you "can't stand it."

What nonsense. You aren't sorry in the slightest, as demonstrated by your shrill attempt to pick apart nearly every line in my comment. As in this example:

> What I don't understand is that
> you said it's "the worst single
> mistake" that you've made "in
> the past five years"...[I'm]
> trying to figure out what kind
> of degree you would be going for
> that's taking five years and
> that you'll have to "move on to
> a real school."

I said it was my worst mistake in the past five years, not since I started college. Do you understand the distinction?

The "kind of degree" I'm going for is a BA. The "real school" I'll be moving on to is law school, assuming that at least one of the schools to which I applied over the summer decides to accept me.

I have no problem with Dr. Rice, specifically. The problems with SJSU lie elsewhere. Your gushing comments about Rice notwithstanding ("He must be respected academically, because they put him in a management position"), the school is mismanaged, the administrative staff is indolent, and they have a graduation rate of 35%. Anyone who has another choice would be well advised to take it.

The Journalist said...

I'm an English major, and I love it here! You know, to be a lawyer, you didn't have to major in English. Psychology also transfers over.
Oh, and you might want to consider taking a critical thinking class because, after however many years at San Jose, you haven't quite picked up on how to support your complaints with facts. (You need more than the "35% graduation" statistic.) Seriously, if you're going to knock an institution, be prepared to back up your position. Being a lawyer will probably require you to do your homework... might want to get on that.

Anonymous said...

Hi there!

Your enthusiasm in one day meeting Dr. Rice is wonderful to hear, but I am sad to say that if you don't hurry, you might miss your chance. Dr. Rice will be retiring by the end of the May 2011.

I just wanted you to know just in case you still haven't gotten the chance to meet Dr. Rice in person.

He still teaches at SJSU and his contact information is on the school's site, so I'm sure you'll have no problem getting an audience with him.