No Fancy Name
Sunday, August 27, 2006
my first week of classes
In a recent e-mail, my mom asked if I was as stoked about my seminars as I am about my comp class (ok, so she didn't say "stoked"). I guess that means I didn't mention it in a blog post! Oops. It was a busy week. But yes, I do like my seminars just fine. This is a good thing, since they're the last two seminars I will take at SJSU (next semester is thesis-only).

Some of you might know that I am completely and utterly deficient in poetry. Seriously. I don't know a thing about the technical aspects of poetry, and I have a difficult time reading and understanding poetry. The exceptions to this statement are Blake, Byron, Baudelaire and Rimbaud in translation, and the War Poets, but don't ask me why (I don't know). Anyway, for a number of really good reasons I figured it would be smart to take the seminar in Poetic Craft and Theory. Although this particular version of the class is focused on the sonnet, we will work with all types of poetry. Have I mentioned I'm not really a big fan of the sonnet? Yeah. But the prof is very nice, very wise, and very well-liked by colleagues and former students...I think "venerable" applies. We only have nine students in the seminar, and I only know one of them—one of the second-year TAs, who was also in my Victorian seminar last semester, and is trying to decide between a PhD program in English or Classics. He's a fine fellow. The other students seem to be entirely new to the program, including one very nice guy from the Philippines here on a Ford Fellowship. It's a pretty basic seminar with three short presentations, two low-key quasi-exam kinds of things (one written, one oral), and a seminar paper on a poet of our choice—"Someone on the fame scale between Shakespeare and [prof's name]" said the prof. I have a short list of three or so, but I'm always open to suggestions from people who actually know something about poetry. Plus, I'd like to see who my readers think I might like!

My other seminar is Composition Studies, and I don't think it could possibly be more low-key. We have twelve people in the seminar and I already know eight of them. Four of us are TAs (the other three new TAs already took this class), three are GAs (they'll likely be TAs next year), two are unknown to me, one is a middle school teacher who was in two courses with me my first semester, and one is an MFA student who was in my AmLit class last semester. The reading load is incredibly light. I'd say it's a mostly workshop/practicum kind of class. Those of us who are already TAs are responsible for bringing in our syllabi for discussion, and we'll have more samples of prompts and essays to discuss—stuff like that. We have to observe a few writing classes and write a few pages about things we learned, but the vast majority of our grade (70%) is our project and presentation of same. The requirements for the project are: "independent research on anything related to composition studies." While I appreciate the flexibility, and he did say it could be a traditional research paper "or even something web-based," I feel like I'm sitting on a wee raft in the middle of the vast ocean of possibilities.

So there you go. I am excited about my own seminars as well as my comp class, even if the comp class did miserably as a group on the grammar diagnostic. Bad news: they all did poorly. Good news: they all did poorly! I won't alienate anyone when we go over grammar-related things! Hooray!



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