The Daily Tar Heel

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Tuesday January 31st

English class to hold Gram-o-Rama

Laughter, music, puns, oxymorons and other grammatical concepts will echo through Wilson Library this afternoon.

Every year the students of ENGL 307 write sketches about grammar, then select and rehearse some of them and perform the best at the end of the semester as part of Gram-o-Rama.

“Gram-o-Rama is sort of hard to define because throughout the course of the semester, students create responses to a number of exercises that ask them to bend, break or overemphasize some aspect of language,” said English lecturer Ross White, who teaches the course.

“And what comes out when they create those exercises is sometimes sketch comedy, sometimes it’s music, sometimes it’s poetry, and there’s no real easy definition for it.”

White said that for the first half of the semester, the students would turn in a new sketch every class period.

Senior linguistics major Peter Schultz, a student in the class, said they wrote things at a fairly frantic pace.

“We had to have a new sketch written for every class basically, and sometimes we did that in groups, but a lot of the time it was solo work,” he said.

White said the students wrote about 195 sketches during that time.

“Then in the second half of the course, we narrowed in down from those 195 to about 35 sketches, and then students began rehearsing,” he said.

This year’s theme of the show is “All’s Fair in Love and Word.”

Schultz said that the two themes that seemed to emerge from a class discussion about the sketches were love and war.

“We have one sketch sort of right in the middle of the show, which is a great parody of Shakespeare, so we were thinking of some way to combine those themes,” he said.

The show covers a lot of content matter from music to presidents.

Junior American studies major Anna Faison, a student in the class, said that there were a lot of rules and constraints on the grammar of assignments but not on the content, which is how the show got its wide range of topics.

White said he is excited to have the students perform the sketches they have worked so hard on in front of an audience.

Schultz also said that the show is free and hilarious.

“I think you can laugh at what’s happening in the sketch, but also appreciate the level of thought and detain that went into the writing,” he said.

Faison said that she would recommend the show to English and writing enthusiasts, but the invitation does not stop there.

“I’m definitely encouraging all of my friends to come regardless of what their interests are because no matter who you are, if you speak English — and maybe even if you don’t — it’s funny.”

White said that he thinks his students have already come away with the main lesson of the course.

“Throughout this process, what they’ve taken away is a new confidence in how they can use and manipulate language to really accomplish anything,” he said.

“For a long time there were jokes about the English majors will never get a job, but I think this is a course that really teaches students that there are no limits on human communication, and that if we are facile with language, that really anything is possible.”

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