Term One

Saturday 26 November 2011

Blog VII: Term One

This coming Monday will be mark the eleventh and final week of first term and I will say that I can hardly wait. Since turning in my essays on week nine I have begun to count down the close of classes, I have also begun to look at my classes and have come to a few conclusions with regards to them.

Though I love Shakespeare more than I will probably love any man, reading a comedy play every single week does tend to get a bit boring and repetitive. My Shakespearean Comedies course to some extent has ruined Shakespeare for me, or at least his comedies, because I can now outline, without even reading the play, the general plot and outcome of any play that is a comedy because I have read so many of them. This isn’t too terrible since I prefer his darker tragedies to his comedies but it is still a bit frustrating. Besides that I have fallen more in love with Shakespeare and can now not only talk intelligently about a good chunk of his plays, but can also say that I have read most of his comedies, one of his problem plays, and two of his romances. And after that many plays (ten in total) I have concluded that A Midsummer Night’s Dream is still my favourite but I also like The Tempest and As You Like It.

My Chaucer class didn’t enhance my love of Geoffrey Chaucer and his Canterbury Tales but it was still arguably my favourite class. The reason that Chaucerian Romance trumped Shakespearean Comedies was primarily because it was not just a visiting students only class but a normal class with students who actually attend Edinburgh full time. Also, I loved the teacher Dr. David Salter, and the environment of the entire class was just comfortable and enjoyable, often it felt more like I was at a Chaucer Society meeting rather than in class. The class was enjoyable because for two hours straight we not only got to talk about romance in Chaucer’s day (which doesn’t coincide with modern day romance at all) but also got to discuss the many sexual innuendos that Chaucer makes, who wouldn’t love a class in which you get to talk about sex in literature. Though the Chaucerian Romance class was just a replacement for the Body in Literature class that I wanted to take but couldn’t get into because it was full, it ended up being my favourite class and I love being able to seem a bit like a snob because I can talk intelligently about Chaucer, plus I really love my giant Riverside Chaucer book which has practically everything Chaucer wrote in the original middle English and I can say I’ve read a good deal of it.

My Scottish Literature course, which is my only first year course and my only yearlong course that I am taking, does not compare at all to Chaucer or Shakespeare, mostly because it’s a first year course. I have saved the worst for last because I wanted to start off good and then get to the end and spend the rest ranting about my wretched first year course. Though I enjoy reading specifically Scottish texts and learning a lot about Scottish literature I detest the broadness of the course and I have serious problems with my tutorial. The course began with novels which was fine, I was introduced to an author that I absolutely love –Muriel Spark-, then it moved to plays which lasted for about two weeks (I only read one of the plays and watched the BBC production of another and saw a third acted out ), and now has gone to poetry before we break. I can understand how this course would be great for a first year because it introduces them broadly to all the things they will be encountering more specifically as they continue on in uni but as a third year student it’s mostly just annoying because not only do I know most of what they are lecturing on (we had an entire lecture on what metaphor and imagery are in a poem, really?!) but also I have no desire to read the texts, not because they aren’t interesting but because I know we won’t really talk about them. My main issue with this course is that we are only skimming the surface of the works, this would be fine if we were reading different texts but the course is having us read Robinson Crusoe, The Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, Paradise Lost, etc. all text that should have weeks dedicated to them instead of just one fifty minute lecture. Which brings me to my tutorial; so the purpose of a tutorial is to get students prepared for the ALG (Autonomous Learning Groups) which they will be participating in in their 3rd and 4th year, but I feel like I am learning very little in my tutorial, in fact, I learn and engage more in my two ALGs (which consist of only students from my classes) than I do in my professor led tutorial. All in all I am just annoyed and disappointed with my Scottish Literature class and I have considered dropping it multiple times but I decide against it for three reasons a) I’m stubborn and demand that I suck it up and stick with the course because no matter what I am learning important things, b) a few of the lectures are good (like the lecture I had this Thursday on Paradise Lost it was absolutely fantastic, almost entrancing), and c) I’ve already put in the time to write and hand in two essays, for me there really isn’t any turning back once essays have been finished and turned in.

So with the end of this term just a week away I am filled with sadness at the loss of my Shakespeare and Chaucer class and wishing that my Scottish lit. class was also only a term long. Though I am also excited that the end is near because with it comes my time to enjoy the holiday season (though I do have a ‘close reading’ essay on a poem that I need to write but I have an upper hand because I’ve taken many poetry courses) and see my family. But I am also a bit worried because all of my exams are at the end of the year so even though I get to enjoy, for the first time in my life, no exams at the end of term I still have to make sure that I keep all of my notes and such and read all the texts I didn’t so that I am prepared for exams in the summer.

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