Monday, April 13, 2009

End of Term Update

It's been about a month since I last updated this blog, so I figured it was high time I write something. I've also been sitting in my flat by myself for the past three days and need something productive to do.

So, after I got back from Morocco, I suppose the next big event was the LitSoc Masquerade Ball. I went out a few days beforehand and bought a lovely blue dress, a mask, and the most painful high heels I've ever worn, but it all came together and I think I looked pretty good.
The ball was held at the Norwich Assembly House next to the Theatre Royal. The venue was beautiful and there was a live swing band. I went over with Meghan, Leah, and Lauren. We took our free champagne and snacked on hors-d'oeuvres until the band started up. Chad came a bit later. We all went out on the dance floor, dragging Alan and Siobhan along with us. Unfortunately, since it was over a month ago, I don't remember all the details. I was the only person who actually knew how to swing dance, so I invited my friend Phil (a Dickinson student on the Science Program who went swing dancing with us in London) to come and be my dance partner. Phil is a far better swing dancer than I am, but it was nice to actually have someone who knew how to swing dance there. Around midnight the party broke up, but Max had reserved the VIP room at Po Na Na Night Club for anyone who had gone to the LitSoc Ball. I had a 9AM class the next morning that I couldn't miss, but I stayed at Po's for about an hour, sitting at a table and talking to Alan and Chad. I probably got to bed around 2am and woke up very tired at 8:30 the next morning.

Academically, I suppose the end of my semester was pretty uneventful. I performed my final scene for French class, an exerpt of the first scene from Jean-Paul Sartre's Les Mains Sales. It was really frustrating because my partner had no confidence, no drive, and no desire to practice. It took him a full four weeks to memorize his lines, but he managed to pull it together for the performance. He missed a few lines, switched some bits around, but it wasn't too bad and I was able to compensate. Overall, I think we did all right. I had to keep a work journal of our rehearsals, and, after the performance, I had to write a 2000 word essay about the play, acting theory, and how I applied that theory to my own role. I think it says something about British foreign language education that the work journal and my essay were not required to be written in French. I knew that the Dickinson French department would never accept the transfer credit if I didn't do my written work in French, so I had to ask my instructor if I could write the journal and essay in French. She didn't have a problem with it, which is encouraging. I'm pretty sure I'm the only person who wrote in French, though. Honestly, it's no harder than writing in English; it just takes longer because I end up having to look up a bunch of words and technical terms that I'm not entirely sure of.
I also had to turn in my final piece for Creative Writing before the end of the semester. I remember that I was visiting Erica in Durham and I was suddenly struck with the amusing image of an elevator operator in Hell. It seemed an interesting idea with a lot of creative potential. I've always been roughly familiar with the basic themes and concepts of Dante’s Inferno, but, despite my penchant for Milton and other stories of that kind, I had never read the Inferno. So I got it out of the library. Ideas came as soon I started reading. I was drawn to the various monsters rather than Virgil and Dante or the sinners, and they started to form into a type of bureaucracy, each with the demeanour of a stereotypical office worker. Basically I've planned to turn Dante’s Inferno into an episode of The Office. My assignment was only for 2000 words of story and another 500 of "critical self-commentary." I've actually managed to outline a good bit of the story so far, and it will be far more than 2000 words when (and if) it's finished. We were allowed to submit exerpts of a piece as long as we provided some indication of a context, so I wrote the first scene, which was almost at the word limit. It took a while, but I think I've finally settled on a title: "Queer Company." It comes from the Inferno itself, when Dante describes the devils who work in Circle VIII as "queer company." I also like the double-entendre on "company."

For Medieval Arthurian Traditions, I still have a 2500 word essay due after Spring Break. I was going to start work on it and attempt to finish it before break, but that fell through. I've decided to come up with my own essay question rather than go with one that was given to me, but our instructor, Karen, asked that we submit our ideas to her before we began writing. I emailed her a while ago, but it took a long time for her to get back to me. The poor woman. She cancelled class twice in the final three weeks. First because she had to make an emergency trip to the hospital to visit an ailing relative (I believe it was her mother), and then two weeks later when her mother passed away. And, on top of it all, Karen was sick herself. On the last day of class she kept ducking out of the room to run to the bathroom, and she told us after one hour of our three hour seminar that she felt too ill to continue and would be going to the doctor's. One of the women in my class bought Karen a big bouquet of flowers and a "Thank you" card that she had us all sign. I'm sure it wasn't the way Karen expected to end the semester, but she did eventually write me back about my essay proposal, so I can only assume that she's found a bit more time and is hopefully feeling better. I mentioned in my email that I'm planning on taking another medieval literature class at Dickinson next year because I've enjoyed it so much here, and she told me that if I wanted to do a Masters in medieval literature, she'd be happy to recommend me to the department of Medieval and Early Modern literature for a Masters. Maybe not immediately, but I think I'd like to take her up on that offer some day.

Speaking of classes for next year, I've signed up for them and expect to be accepted into them all. First I had to choose my Senior Seminar, which will prepare me for my thesis the following semester. Also, my seminar professor will be my thesis advisor in the spring. So I'm taking Professor Moffat's Sexuality and Modernism seminar. It's not a subject I'm terribly interested in, but I know that it will be a fabulous class anyway, and that Prof. Moffat will be a great resource as a thesis advisor. It'll be nice to have a class with her. I haven't had one since Eng. 220 my Freshman Fall.
I'm also taking a class on Marie de France, a writer of medieval romances. The class is with Prof. Reed, whose daughter Abby is on the Norwich Program with me and was in my Medieval Arthurian Traditions class. Her dad is one of the few professors in the English Dept. that I don't really know because he was on sabbatical last year when I was invading the department. It should be good.
I've also signed up for an anthropology class called Biosocial Aspects of Female Sexuality. I wanted to take something different for me, and this seemed like it would be particularly interesting. We'll see.
I also need to take two more French classes to complete my minor, so I'm taking one each semester. I had a choice between two classes: French Idenity and one Contemporary Issues in French Society. I'm more interested in French Identity, but I've heard awful things about the professor, so I was going to take the other class. Then I got an email from Professor Johnston, a fantastic professor in the English Dept., asking me to be her TA for her Freshman Seminar. There was no way I was going to refuse that offer, but her Seminar meets at the same time as Contemp. Issues. So, despite the poor teacher, I'm going to be taking French Idenity. Oh well. At least the topic will be interesting and the class will be easy. I'd much rather sacrifice a good French class if it means I'll be working with Prof. Johnston.
I wrote to Prof. Johnston to ask if she knew anything about Thomas Chatterton, the 18th century British child prodigy poet who forged medieval romances, because I was thinking of researching him for my thesis. She wrote back "Aren't you going to do your thesis on Milton?" So I guess that clears up that question. I'm doing my thesis on Milton. But with Profs. Johnston and Moffat to guide me, I think it will go relatively smoothly. Or as smooth as a thesis can go.

I spent a lot of time socializing in those last few weeks of the semester. Chad's sister Chelsea came to visit, so we took her out a few times. Then there was Alan's birthday and the final LitSoc pub crawl, both of which were fun.
I've also been spending more time with my friend Sophie from Circus. This included taking her to the hospital. Not exactly the best way to socialize, but, in a weird way, it was nice to be asked. She has a lot of health problems and ends up going to the emergency room fairly often. She also needs people to sleep over with her if she's not feeling particularly well, and she usually calls on any of a group of really good friends. The other day she called me up at 9am saying that she had a kidney infection and would I mind walking with her to the hospital? So I ran over to her dorm and we went over to the hospital, which is only a 20min walk or so from campus. She has a nifty electric wheelchair. Anyway, we got to the emergency room. I stayed for about five hours, but I had to go to a screening of Monty Python and the Holy Grail for my Medieval Arthurian class, so I left before she was even formally admitted. She stayed for a few days, but was better by the time Mel came to visit.

Oh, and Dickinson also took a trip out to Blickling Hall, a 17th century manor house, the property of which used to belong to the Boleyn family. It's a gorgeous house with lovely gardens. Chad and I walked around it for a couple of hours before we all headed back to UEA. A nice day out.

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