No Fancy Name
Sunday, December 05, 2004
six classes, work, teaching...this is nothing
I've had people comment (in real life and here as well) about my six classes plus my work plus the grading/emailing that constitutes "teaching," mentioning how I'm a wee bit odd or nuts or must just really be busy, etc. I think I'm all of that, but really, this type of schedule is nothing.

I learned how to deal with lots of work at one time many moons ago, during my final three semesters of college. After my third semester at the school, I wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible. Because it was a special program, and I had suckass grades those three semesters (GPA was like 2.6 at that point, ugh!), transferring wasn't going to be an option: likely I wouldn't have gone anywhere decent, and I would been behind anyway what with credits possibly not transferring, different requirements, etc.

So I got a little nutso with the schoolwork for the last three semesters, and ended up graduating in three years instead of four. My last three semesters went like this:

Spring '91
Brit Lit after 1680, Children's Lit, Romantic Lit, Modern Poetry, History of Tudor-Stuart England, Intro to Physics, Issues on Women & Leadership, Focus on Women...8 classes, 25 credits, 3.4 GPA

Fall '91
Women & Mass Media, Brit Lit before 1680, Writing the Mini-Play, French for Reading Knowledge (aka "I can't speak it worth crap but I can read it ok, so the French prof set up a directed inquiry class so that once a week I'd hang out in her office, we'd drink espresso, and I'd translate French, poorly." It rocked.), Latin I, Existentialism, Sex Roles & Male/Female Relationships (I hadn't yet fulfilled my social sciences requirements, and it was the only one that fit into my schedule. Don't judge.)...7 classes, 18 credits, 3.85 GPA

Spring '92, the BEST SEMESTER EVER. I had an absolute blast.
19th Century English Novel, 20th Century British Lit, Major's Seminar (more on that in a minute), History of 20th Century Europe, Latin II, Intro to Ethics, Philosophy & the Arts, Death & Dying, Oral Interpretation, Intro to Shakespeare, Great Plays...11 classes, 33 credits, 3.6 GPA

So yeah, six classes is nothing. I vividly remember the discussion I had with the head of my department as well as the Dean of the college, both of whom had to sign off on my wacky plan. It went something like this: "I'd like to take overloads for the next three semesters, including a double-load the last semester, so I can graduate a year ahead of schedule. Here's my plan [insert plan]." Them: "You're nuts, you haven't even gotten an A in anything your first three semesters." Me: "But I can." Them: "Prove it" Me: "Ok, if I screw up this semester, forget I asked." Them: "deal." Whereupon I went out and got 4 As, a B+, 2 Bs and a C- in Modern Poetry. Issues with the prof. They signed off on my plan, and here I am.

Of course a few months later I promptly withdrew from grad school after half a semester, due to burnout and just general lack of preparation for grad school. Flash forward 12+ years and here we are.

Oh, I said I was going to mention the Major's Seminar. What an absolute joke. I have no doubt that at one point in its history it was a good idea, but in a student-driven seminar thing, to have a good seminar you must have good students. We weren't really blessed with great students at my school, and English wasn't a popular major. In any given year, we had maybe 10-12 senior English majors.

In the Major's Seminar, the majors attended a class every few weeks during their last four semesters. I only had to do it my last two semesters, or maybe it was three, I don't know. It wasn't four. Anyway, each senior had to write a paper about a short story or a poem, something that could be copied for everyone to read. They would turn in their paper and the story/poem to the faculty (note: we only had like 5 or 6 faculty in the department), who would think up questions based on the paper. The rest of us then got a copy of the paper, the story/poem and the questions, and had to write essay responses to two of the questions and turn in to the faculty at the seminar the following week. At the seminar, we'd all get together and talk about the piece, the paper and the questions, and if there was anything to "defend," the senior would do so. Since most people couldn't read their way out of a paper bag, let alone ask questions that would require the major to defend anything they wrote, there wasn't much was more a lovely little chat.

A LOT of the selected pieces were American short stories of the latter half of the twentieth century, or modern poetry, or children's lit. The papers, what a joke. If a paper was five pages long, the person was overachieving. So I messed with all of them and wrote ten pages on Oscar Wilde's "Panthea". A lot of majors hated me for that, what with the thinking that was required of them. Oh well, life's hard.


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