No Fancy Name
Thursday, January 26, 2006
seminar #1: major american romantic writers
When the seminars for this semester were announced, this is the one I was most excited about because I think this is going to end up being my major area as I go on and attempt to be scholarly. The prof is Dr. TA-coordinator and husband of Dr. Woman-I'm-Helping-with-Research, aka my primary mentors at this time. Anyway, let me cut to the chase: we each have seven (7) presentations to do in this class.

A younger me (the me of six months or a year ago) would have freaked out about seven presentations. A quick search of my archives will show much freaking out about one presentation, let alone seven. But this is the new me, the one who has seen the abilities of my classmates and knows I'm no worse than they are and in fact am better than some. That's an enormous weight just *poof* gone.

These aren't long presentations, just eight minutes (and he said he will be keeping time and cutting us off). Each major author is split into two weeks of study, and eight students present each week on topics he selects. For instance, he passed around the topic list (eight for each week) for Emerson (weeks 1 and 2) and we all signed up for something. You would think that I would have selected something for week 3—and although the signup sheet came to my side of the room last, there were still things left for week 3—but no, I signed up for something next week. Next week. I have a presentation to do next week.

I really like the requirements for the weeks we are presenting: single-sheet summary handout for the class, our 8 minutes of blathering on, and a 2-page formal(ish) essay about something specific related to our presentation (where presentation is broad, essay is focused) that goes only to him. Thus, every other week or so we have significant requirements of engagement with the work. I like that so much better than "let's all read and discuss everything informally for 16 weeks and write a paper at the end." There is also a paper at the end, but it's a short one (10-12pp) and will likely grow out of something we present.

I'm looking at the presentations in this class—both the ones I make and the ones my classmates make—as idea generators for my MA thesis. At least that's what the Drs. Mentor said would be a good idea, since they'll be the primary people helping me through that process, and this is their area. We'll see how it goes.

Half the class consists of people I already know and (with the exception of the one) like. There are a few other people I knew by name and who have really good reputations—I have things to learn from them, I know already—and a few others I've never seen before/know nothing about. Overall, I think it's a good mix.

for anyone interested, I am presenting on Emerson's definition of/idea of a good, inspired speaker or preacher in "The Divinity School Address"


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