Last week was light on stories because my classes were pretty thin—there were only a handful of us in Monday's classes (methods, theory) and the ones absent are the ones who do the story-worthy things. We turned in a book review in the methods class and I have this feeling that the people who skipped just didn't have their review done (it was only 3-5 pages, come on!) and then thought if they came to theory class we'd make fun of them or something for not coming to methods class (we wouldn't).
We didn't get our essays back in theory class, and I really wish we had because I hate to have outstanding unknown things bouncing around my brain. The essay was a 6-8 pager, a formalist reading of our target text (Chesnutt's "The Wife of His Youth" in my case). Next week (as in one week from tomorrow) we hand in our second essay, applying mimetic theory to our target text. I'll only have a few days to process how much I screwed up the former (if any) before tackling the latter...so let's hope I didn't screw it up too much.
I dig the theory class, and the old fellow who teaches it is an absolute hoot. I'm the only one who thinks so, and that's fine with me—his class isn't the first time I've been the only person laughing at witticisms made by the prof. The theory class isn't required for MA students, but as I just found out last week it is
required for MFA students. Go figure. I just thought the MFA students in my class (it's 40/60 MA/MFA) were overachievers but no...apparantly the theory class is some sort of gauntlet they have to make it through. I wish the class were required for MA students as well, because it sure would weed out the, uh, weeds. Then again, a large number of MA students here are middle school/high school teachers and want the degree for the pay raise and will never go on to more schooling or teach any level beyond high school, and they aren't even going to write a thesis in this program (it's optional), so putting requirements like the theory class or writing a thesis into the program would likely send them all running away to neighboring schools and there would be precious few students in the program. So, from a students == money point of view I can see the point of not requiring theory. Plus, those of us with other aspirations recognize the importance of such a class and take it anyway.
Also, I don't know how many karma points I had to cash in to make this happen, but in the theory class I've been randomly assigned the best
essay and the best
book to summarize and present. By "best" I mean "enjoyable and not at all difficult." The essay I was assigned was Eliot's "Tradition and the Individual Talent," so it was painless. The book I'll talk about in a few weeks when it's my turn again, it's E. H. Gombrich's Art and Illusion
. See? Fun. The other books, assigned to other people in the class, not so fun.
In my free time (ha! ha ha ha!), I'm helping my AmLit prof from last semester. She's doing an Alcott book and I'm helping with the glossary by looking up biographical data for obscure people who attended talks and/or hung out at various utopian communities. But I'm also using my mad technical skillz to make the info easier to manage; forms and databases and web-based tools are good that way. It was then pointed out to me by certain people whose projects are all about digital archives of this and that (*cough* Mel *cough*) that I'd be particularly valuable to people if, you know, I mentioned things like this and the fact that I've been working with XML for ten+ years and so on. "Huh," I said. "How about that."
I know the courses I'm taking next semester: the Romanticism seminar, the Victorian seminar, and whatever "period studies in AmLit" seminar is being offered by a particular prof I like. All the periods he usually works with are periods I like, so it's all good. The semester after that (fall '06) I'm going to take the second part of the MA exam, because by then I'll be very comfortable with all things 19th/20th C Am/British ; I'll take the first part of the MA exam in spring '07 after taking the survey courses for things i'm not terribly thrilled about (17th/18th C British, that would be you). That's my plan.