Tuesday, January 19, 2010

School is awesome!

QUICK NOTE: there are spoilers for Perfect fifths in the first two paragraphs of this blog post. Read at your own risk. (HAPPY, Marlena?)

Okay, so when I twittered earlier about TARDIS-related daydreams, Hayley texted to yell at me for not marking today's occasion: as it is January 19th, today is the day Jessica Darling and Marcus Flutie cross paths for the final time in Megan McCafferty's novel Perfect Fifths. I promised her that I would blog about it so she wouldn't be mad anymore.

Well, I lied. But I have good reasons! First of all, the thing I want to actually discuss-- that is, Bridget and Percy's marriage-- doesn't take place until the 20th. So I can talk about it tomorrow and have it still be relevant. And for another, today was my first day of classes, and I would really like to talk about that while it's still fresh in my mind. So, sorry Hayley. But I'll get to it.

In any case!

Today I had three of the four classes I'll be taking this semester, so let's just tackle them in order, shall we?

My first class was Global Warming and Nuclear Winter, which I'm only taking because I need a science class. Luckily, the professor is very well aware of this. "I know why you're taking this course," he said. "It's because you want science credit. But I'm here because it's fun! So, you'll just have to suffer with me while I have fun." Hee! On the board, he'd written his fully notated name: Doctor Professor Kostantinos Tsipis. And yes, he is just as adorably old and Greek as his name suggests. One by one, he started crossing off parts of his name until we were left with just "Kosta," which is what he wants us to call him. Cuuute!

Anyway. 70% of the class is the final research paper, and he emphasized over and over again that he doesn't care about our grades: he just wants to make sure we learn something. This is so refreshing I cannot even tell you-- not to mention reassuring, given that this is a science class and that's scary. But he knows that! "I want you to become unafraid of science. Humanities majors are PETRIFIED of science-- they're allergic to it. I want to cure that!" The emphasis of the course will be on understanding the importance of numbers and why we quantify things; we're meant to ask questions. This is a class about humanity: the problems we face as a species, and our tendency to learn by experience.

(And in a perfect My Big Fat Greek Wedding moment, he handed out a scientific notation cheat sheet that had the etymological origins of the number prefixes. Like, for example:
Million = 106 = mega- (from "μέγας" ["big"])
HOW. CUTE. IS. THAT? Also, he makes his lowercase "a"s like lowercase greek alpha: α, which is very confusing to read but also extremely endearing.)

My next class was Shakespeare, which is in a huge lecture hall. That's nice, though, because I really got a feeling of Brandeis community in there. Margaret, one of the girls in UTO, sat behind me; Tal, this one guy who ALWAYS ends up in one of my classes, because we're on the same academic track; Ian, the president of the Comic Book Club, and at least three members of Hold Thy Peace, the on-campus Shakespeare performance group... they were all there. As was the hot TA from my Indie class last semester, we'll see if I get him this time. The professor, Flesch, was highly recommended to me by Talia, and I can see why: he's dynamic and interesting and so, so passionate about his subject matter.

He's also a huge nerd. He talked about Star Wars when describing how Shakespeare's intentions towards his histories are evident in that he didn't write them in chronological order, and what his thematic treatment of Henry V's life said about him as a creator. And then, when we were discussing our Shakespeare's Complete Works copies, he talked about how radical an idea it was-- and still is-- to make a Complete Works for plays. In the Elizabethan era, "works" were treatises by Aristotle or Plato. They were not just ordinary plays. The first person to compile such a thing was Ben Johnson, a contemporary of Shakespeare's. "You have to admire the audacity of it," said Professor Flesch. "A lowly playwright publishing his own material in an anthology of 'works.' This is almost as if Joss Whedon would go and collect Buffy scripts and publish them... oh wait." HEE!

Oh, and later, when he was talking about the importance of iambic pentameter, he used not the example I was expecting ("My chest of drawers divide amongst my friends," thank you John Green) but one from Total Recall: ("You know how much I hate this fucking planet!" which is an example of a feminine ending) and one from regular life at a diner: ("I'll have the special and a glass of Coke," which is masculine. "Or 'diet Coke,' if you're worried" he amended.) In any case, we'll be reading Richard II, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Merchant of Venice, Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth, Antony & Cleopatra, and A Winter's Tale, which is pretty much a play per week and a half. I have to say, I'm excited to read A Winter's Tale, and I'm not sure if it's because it's the origin of the name Hermione, or because it includes the stage direction "Exit pursued by bear."

Tal followed me to my last class, Birth of the Short Story: Gods, Ghosts, Lunatics. It was immensely gratifying, because that class was filled with what I'll call my English Posse-- the kids I took the 100 intro course with, who will stay with me as we all fulfill our majors. Talia, Chef, Rebecca, Tal... it's really awesome that we have our own little corner of the room. We read three pre-genre short stories, and argued over what defines a short story and what makes them effective, and I've missed English classes. I love film studies and I'm glad I took two film classes last semester, but balancing them out with two English courses this semester feels right. I really love analysis and critical thinking and class discussions and defending interpretations. It's too bad one can't make a career out of it.

But hey, that's what this blog is for, innit?

Anyway, I think I've kept you long enough, Gentle Readers. Tomorrow I have my German Cinema: Vamps and Angels course (which I did NOT select purely for the name, but I'd be lying if I said it wasn't a contributing factor) and then I'll be mostly settled in for the spring. As for now, I'm off to check up on my favorite web comics and then probably rewatch the World War II episodes from series one of Doctor Who. Later, kids!


  1. Although you are still a bitch, I'm super excited for these classes. I feel like I'm taking them, too, so you'd better provide enough anecdotes to satisfy me.

  2. You're taking German Cinema? Jealousss.
    Lemme know what you'll be watching in there.

  3. Yesthankyou.
    Your classes sound so, so, so exciting. And your science professor sounds exactly like a more outgoing, smarter version of Bapi, aka adoooorable. I hope he wears huge, white loafers.
    I'm looking forward to tomorrow's blog. And I have to say, A+ on the blogging so far. You're a natural, Bartels.

  4. German cinema sounds fun. I envy Shakespeare class because I've never been taught Shakespeare and never will before I graduate (stupid education system). I feel like interesting class-related blogs are on the way.

  5. Those classes sound awesome. They vaguely remind me of some of the classes I did last semester.
    "Exit pursued by bear" Hehe. =P