Life?

I’ve been bad. I knew it would happen, and here – it has. Neglect has set in once more. And I was doing so well! I was posting every day, in the morning, even while I was in Vancouver! Oh, well. So it goes. Life happens. I know I shouldn’t beat myself up about it (but, well, it’s me, so I’m going to – but I needn’t subject my readers to my self-flagellation!)

Back on my beautiful campus, the past three weeks have been a whirlwind of activity, moodiness, and more activity.  Here’s some of what I’ve been up to:

1) Classes:

-The Nineteenth Century Novel: for all you readers out there, doesn’t this sound exciting?! It is! The professor is perhaps the oldest on campus and gets tired rather quickly, but he has amazing insight and is still passionate about what we read. So far, we’ve read Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Talk about incredible syllabus. I’ve also been reading Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky for the independent-study portion of this class. I’ve yet to make up my mind as to whether I like it or not.

-The Talking Cure: my very first psych-course ever, this lecture is turning out to be fantastic. There’s a lot of intricate reading, but it’s fascinating. I’ve been spending a lot of my out-of-class time discussing what I’ve been learning in this class. This is one of the things I love about college – these kinds of conversations are fun and mutual.

-Writing Workshop: I’m writing short stories for the first time in my life. I’ve been known to post some lengthier things here, in installments, but none have ever been very satisfying to me. A couple had resolutions, sure, but mostly I seem to know how to end very short pieces with a punch. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, but it’s interesting to be in a class that is solely for the purpose of writing short stories: our teacher is a meticulous reader and reads every workshop submission twice which is why he won’t accept novels. The experience of writing a short story is interesting and, to me, vastly different than that of writing a novel.

2) Book club: Two friends and I have started a weekly meeting in one of the coziest spaces on our campus and we invite people to come and read with us. For fun. Because we all have lots and lots AND LOTS of reading for classes, but we all miss reading for pleasure. Our book club was started so that we would have prescribed weekly time to just read for fun. We’ve had two meetings so far, and it’s been extremely fun.

3) Drama: No, not the kind of drama you’re thinking of! Thank goodness. There is drama on campus, of course; it’s inevitable, in such a small school or, indeed, anywhere. But I’ve been making sure not to involve myself actively in any of it. No, the drama I mean is my acting-for-fun impulse. I’ve been in our weekly cabaret/sketch style show, and have also been chosen to play Frank N’ Furter in our shadowcast production of the Rocky Horror Picture Show that will be happening a couple days before Halloween. This is my dream role, and I can’t describe the absolute astonishment I felt for being picked out to play the wonderful character. Lots of fishnet tights are in my near future.

Alrighty. Now I’m kind of all caught up. I need to catch up with all my bloggy-friends’ blogs. I miss reading them, and I’ve been trying not to fall too far behind on anyone, but I’m probably failing miserably. I will do my very best to begin posting regularly again and not to be a stranger to y’all.

Happy Thursday!

A Taste of Conference Work

Although I’m taking time off from school – or maybe because of it – I still think a lot about my academic work. Over the last few months, I did more research and reading about obscure and interesting subjects than I dreamed was possible for such a short span of time. I found it immensely satisfying, challenging, and frankly fascinating to read things that I would never have picked up on my own without the structure of research and coursework to guide me.

Now, at Sarah Lawrence, the most important and unique part of the system is conference work. This is basically independent study and research that is done for each course, with the professor supervising the process and helping out when and if needed. I thought I’d give a small taste of what this is like. Below is the handout I gave to our class, as instructed by the professor, towards the end of my writing process of what turned out to be almost twenty pages of essay, end-notes and bibliography:

Elizabeth Barton, The Holy Maid of Kent, and Anne Askew, Protestant Martyr

Political and Religious Importance in Early Reformation England

  • Elizabeth Barton – In 1525, Barton began to have visions and make prophecies. She soon joined a nunnery after an impressive public healing in a chapel in Kent, and became renowned in England for her prophecies. She prophesied directly against King Henry VIII, predicting his downfall should he marry Anne Boleyn. Executed on April 20, 1534, for treason.
      • What was her political role and what goals did she set out to meet? What political role did she play in her arrest and death? Was she autonomous in her actions or merely being influenced and used by her mentors?
    • Quote: A warning from Thomas More: “Good Madam… I shall beseech you to take my good mind in good worth… many folk desire to speak with you… But some hap to be curious and inquisitive of things that little pertain unto their parts; and some might peradventure hap to talk of such things as might peradventure after turn to much harm…”
  • Anne Askew – In 1545, after being kicked out of her home by her Catholic husband, Askew traveled to London where she was soon apprehended and examined for her Protestant beliefs. She recorded her examinations – the first in 1545 and the second in 1546 – and her manuscripts were published after her execution on July 16, 1546, by John Bale, a Protestant activist.
      • Were her words her own, or were they edited? What was her political and religious significance, before and after her execution? Was she used by others or working as her own free agent?
    • Quote: John Bale praises Askew: “Soch a won was she… whose harte the lorde opened by the godlye preachynge of Paule… “