The inner monologue of a student blagging a seminar they didn’t prepare for

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Note: This inner monologue is based around English Literature degrees, but can be applied to most humanities subjects. Maths students, I have no idea how you blag your way through an equation. I can’t help you, I’m so sorry.

Where am I? Who am I? What’s this note next to my bed surrounded by evidence from last night in the form of empty bottles, discarded fast food wrappers and fancy dress items peeled from the floor of Sugar?

IF YOU DON’T WANT TO FAIL HORRIBLY THEN YOU HAVE TO ATTEND THIS 9AM.

 Some wise words from my pre-hungover self. It is probably in my best interests to get up.

Placing a seminar this early on a Thursday morning has got to be violating some of my basic human rights. You have a PhD but no knowledge of the existence of Sugar on a Wednesday night? I’m almost convinced tutors sadistically organise the timetables based around when students are most likely to be suffering the after-effects of a night out.

Okay, what’s this seminar actually on? Check Moodle. Nope, I have literally no idea what that text is about. In fact, if I hadn’t bought it at the start of the year and let it sit abandoned on my shelf, I’d be debating whether it was even a real book. I wouldn’t put it past the tutor to do that- assign something so obscure it didn’t even exist.

Please be on SparkNotes. Please be on SparkNotes. A tense 0.28 seconds waiting for the search results to appear on Google. Damn it, SparkNotes, how could you let me down after all we’ve been through? I’m sorry I can’t credit you in my essays, but you know you’ll always have a special place in my heart. This calls for a desperate scurry through Wikipedia and any blog review ever written that even vaguely mentions the text. Some poor soul out there must have read it.

There is still time for an underrated part of the blagging process- altering physical appearance. If I turn up looking like I’ve spent the night memorising relevant quotations from critics and not slurring my way through song lyrics I mistakenly think I know off by heart, or, if I have the appearance of having dedicated more time engrossed in Kristeva’s theory of abjection than Sultan’s cheesy chips, I’ve already achieved half of the deception.

And now to continuously open and close the book for a while, perhaps give it a few hits against my desk. Make it look well-read.

So, I’m physically present in the seminar room, if not mentally or spiritually. Right, time to engage in one of the most crucial of the blagging techniques: Operation Nod-along-to- everything-said.

Some incredibly abstract theories from my tutor that my vodka-soaked brain can’t even begin to comprehend right now. Have you changed from speaking English to Klingon half way through the sentence? Why has nobody else realised you’re using made-up words? Yes, yes, yes. How astute of you. I was just thinking the very same thing.

 An alarmingly articulate input from a classmate whose sole purpose in life must be to make me feel bad about mine. Look at you with your organised folder and your eclectic array of stationary. Do you really need that many highlighters? You make me feel sick. Yes, yes, yes. I would have said that too, had you not beaten me to it.

A joke made by my tutor. Or at least I think it is a joke. Yes, yes, yes. So witty. See, I totally get you. So please just allow me to make it through the rest of this hour without a mental breakdown.

 Uh oh, the tutor has asked a question to the group. Quick, look at the book. I need to act like I’m finding the perfect extract,  it’s the key to the most mind-blowing reading of the text, and it’s absolutely imperative that I do not spare a single second looking up from the pages. Basically, avoid the tutor’s eye contact. At. All. Costs.

‘What did you think of that chapter, Alice?’

(Cue brief moment of pure, unadulterated terror.)

‘The chapter expressed some really thought-provoking attitudes towards gender, don’t you agree?’

It’s common knowledge that the gender card never fails. Every text ever written is pretty much guaranteed to include a male and/or female. Asking the question back to the tutor distracts them. Chances are they’ve dedicated their entire career to studying that text, and an opportunity to express their opinion is hard to resist.

Hallelujah, an hour has passed. All that’s left is to nod my way out of the door.

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