Miss Woodhouse's Musings

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Eight More Weeks

It has recently been brought to my attention that my blogging of late is…spotty, at best. Naturally, this is due to an amazingly complex life workload right now, and (if we’re being honest) a general lack of inspiration. But no more! Today marks my last first-day-of-a-session, and I intend to milk these last eight weeks of university for all they are worth.

This morning, I started Hebrew. After a long struggle with Greek, Hebrew seems even more incomprehensible (if that’s even possible). However, I’ve always wanted to learn Hebrew, so I’m attacking it like it’s a language out of a fantasy book. So what if it bears no relationship to English??? A dalet totally reminds me of the word Dalek…this is doable. Oh! Here’s a picture of what I did in class this morning!

I’m continuing with Oral Communication, the only class that is staying the same over the whole semester. It’s a great class though, almost a brain break of sorts. Really, the class should be called The Art of Storytelling, because that is what we do. We read about orality and the ideas of oral culture (slightly ironic, I know), and then we tell stories! Next week we have to tell either a Teaching or a Vision story. I’ve not yet decided which I’ll go with, but so far all of my stories started out as blog posts here. Look at you all, helping me get an A in this class! We are reading this really great book by Walter Ong titled Orality and Literacy that is awesome! If you’re a word/language-geek looking for an interesting read, I encourage you to pick it up! This guy is scary smart.

Last, but not least, I’m doing Mystery Fiction! Due to being one of the first English majors on campus (and helping start the English Club as well), I’ve spent quite a bit of time in the English Suite talking with our awesome English professors. (By the way, that sentence just won an award for overusing the word “English.”) During one of those chats, I was asking our department head about the likelihood of creating certain courses. One of the things I asked about was a mystery class. I’m a huge fan of the genre, and I thought that it might be fun. While I was told that there were no plans to create such a course for the university, the department head mentioned that she had taught such a class at another college in the past.

Fast forward to last May when I realized that my current degree plan left room for one more elective course. Problem was, I’d taken any and every class that I was even slightly interested in. So, I casually asked the department head if she would be willing to do an independent study with me. She was! So there you have it…the brief and tedious history of my university’s first Mystery Fiction class.

I had the honour of drawing up my reading list, and it’s a pretty awesome one:

Week One – The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

Week Two – Murder in the Rue Morgue, The Purloined Letter, The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe

Week Three – A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle

Week Four – The Maltese Falcon  by Dashiell Hammett

Week Five – The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

Week Six – Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers

Week Seven – Death of an Expert Witness by P. D. James

Week Eight – The Service of All the Dead by Colin Dexter

A bit heavy on the British side of things, but we both prefer British literature anyway, so it works out. I also have two supplementary books for the class: The Perfect Murder, and Bloody Murder. I’m sure after ordering those two books that I’m now on some Amazon watch list. Also, please ignore the fact that I’m ordering from Amazon. Desperate times and all that jazz.

Add to that teaching British Literature twice a week, American Literature twice a week, a few music students, and 20+ hours at Starbucks, and I’m really in for an exciting two months. Oh well…l’chaim!

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My *Hopefully* Last Spring Semester

It dawned on me today that unless my university totally messes up the class schedule for next Fall (and that is not beyond the realm of possibility), this will be my last Spring semester, the last time I’ll take sessions C and D. Trust me, this is totally sweet with no bitter-ness anywhere in sight.

I’m ready to be done with college. For reals.

With that end in mind, I’m tackling 5 classes this semester, something I’ve only tried once before. Due to a professor who apparently didn’t understand the difference between a 100 level and a 400 level class, it didn’t go too well – I ended up dropping a class. For those of you who don’t understand why this is even a big deal (because, let’s face it, most traditional students take 5 classes a semester), allow me to explain. My university is nontradional. Because we started as a graduate school, undergrad classes were an afterthought mostly just so people a few credits short of a Bachelor’s could finish up and move on with life.

Undergrad classes, then, only lasted 8 weeks.

Before you go all “how cool is that” on me, let’s make sure we are on the same page. Imagine all the class work you do for an entire semester. Essays, papers, research, projects, tests, midterms, finals, the works. Now, instead of having 4 months to complete those assignments, you only have 8 weeks. To top it off, you either don’t get a class on campus, or you only get a two hour class every week. To make up for that, you write mini-essays every week and then reply to your classmate’s essays. This is ON TOP of everything else.

Recently, the undergrad program underwent some changes, and we are starting to transition to more traditional schedules. New classes are 16 weeks and on campus, meeting twice a week for an hour and some minutes. To be honest, after 4 years of rapidly cramming information into my head in a two week period, it can be hard to adjust to the pace of a slower class. The temptation is to put the assignments on a back burner because they feel less “urgent.” Or maybe that’s just me.

This semester, I have one 16 week class. We’re studying the Psalms, and the class is amazing! It’s taught by one of my favourite teachers, and taking it means that I’m almost finished with the Biblical Studies minor part of my degree. For the next four months, we are taking apart the book of Psalms, looking at structure, form, meaning, cultural relevance, and spiritual application. If you are interested in a non-scholarly approach to the book, I can’t recommend C. S. Lewis’ Reflections on the Psalms enough. It’s simply brilliant.

“Finally, as will soon be apparent to any reader, this is not what is called an ‘apologetic’ work. I am nowhere trying to convince unbelievers that Christianity is true. I address those who already believe it, or those who are ready, while reading, to ‘suspend their disbelief’. A man can’t be always defending the truth; there must be a time to feed on it.”

Yeah, this is going to be a great class, and is already sparking some ideas for blog posts. You’ve been warned!

Then, this session I have two 8 week classes.

Tuesday nights are helping me finish up my cognate (mini-minor) in Speech and Communication. We are studying Rhetorical Criticism- a research method that helps you identify the purpose and effectiveness of various communication symbols. Over the next few weeks I’ll be writing papers on song lyrics, the State of the Union Address, SuperBowl commercials, and print ads. It’s going to be great fun, and I have a feeling that some of those papers will end up here too!

Last, but not least, I’m taking Milton and the 17th Century. This makes my English major’s heart very, very happy. I’ve never been a huge Milton fan, but his writings are so foundational to other English works that I know it will be a great course. Frustratingly, I can’t seem to get that textbook to come in (*mutters under breath about university bookstores not being quite forthcoming with information about shipping issues*)…but I’m hoping to have it tomorrow. I’ve taken every English literature class with this professor, and she’s awesome! It’s nice to have this class with her.

That’s the bare schedule that I have going on. There are a bunch of other things going on in the next 8 weeks too, but they’ll have to wait. I’ve got to go study!

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