Polly Devlin

Jul 2008

Professor Devlin is an extremely well-connected and accomplished writer; this being said, I wouldn't say she's a particularly accomplished professor. The class consists of multiple writing assignments per week, ranging from general reviews of writing pieces to personal essays. The range of assignments keeps the class interesting, but unfortunately Devlin's constant stream of anecdotes amount to an overwhelming sense of her insecurity, shielded by stories involving famous writers, actors and gobs of money. She brought interesting people to the class, like Sophie Dahl and Nick Paumgarten from the New Yorker, perhaps the most useful part of the class. But I found myself cranking out three or four essays every Thursday night (they were due on Fridays) without much effort, then meeting with her the next week to have her edit them for me, despite the fact I didn't care much about them anyway. She clearly played favorites, and I'm glad that I was one of them; the debates and arguments the rest of the class had to sit through with the people she didn't like were tiring. I don't think that I became more creative or necessarily a better writer in this class, but I did manage to learn a lot about myself and what I like to write about, which is something important I suppose. Devlin is very kind and tries hard to change your life, but the strongest thing I came away with was a sort of tragic view of a potentially great teacher.