08 September, 2009

The Fall Semester, Anno Domini 2009

My classes for this semester:

  • The famous Junior Poet, probably the class most defining UD-ness both by its widespread reputation and its consummate awesomeness (and yes, the word choice there is deliberately mixed in tone)
  • Medieval Lit, a requirement for English majors
  • Russian Novel, a very interesting class led by two of the pillars of UD academia, Dr. Dupree and Dr. Cowan, son of Louise Cowan, and heir to some of the founders of the university
  • French Literary Traditions I; this is after taking Lit Trad III last fall semester
  • Elementary Russian I, taught by the Physics professor, who is fluent and makes up for our tragic lack of a Russian department in this Cold War-minded/capable of recognizing what de Tocqueville and similarly perspicacious men have always seen, ie that Russia and America share essential, and almost surreal similarities in a historical sense while differing wildly in culture school. (How's that for a tangled sentence? Basically I mean: UD should have a Russian department.)
  • and finally, a special reading course in French Symbolist poetry

I'm most excited about that last one, in some ways, because I wasn't sure that I'd be able to do something like this until the very first day of class. Basically I went to the head of the French department (who is going on sabbatical this semester), told him that there was no way that I'd be able to get a French major with the extraordinarily limited (understandably so, since practically no one here studies what is arguably the foremost literary language besides English in the world as far as English speakers are concerned) number of course offerings in the language each semester. I mentioned the fact that T.S. Eliot is my poet for J-Po, and explained my corresponding interest in the Symbolist movement that so heavily influenced him. Then I stated my proposition for this semester: instead of taking a fascinating yet largely impractical class in Elementary Hebrew, couldn't a study the French symbolists under the guidance of one of the teachers? And surprisingly, the answer was an enthusiastic "yes"! So now I basically have the privilege of being able to spend all the free time which I am not devoting to T.S. Eliot reading about and interpreting the (very arcane) works of poets such as Laforgue, Verlaine, Corbiere, and the not-quite-symbolists-but-connected Gautier and Baudelaire. And to cap it all off, I get to randomly go and have long conversations with the magnificently erudite Dr. Dupree (who does everything from tech trouble shooting in every department, to translating volumes of French poetry, to teaching classes in Old English) about anything he finds remotely pertinent. What could be a better way to get in an eighteenth credit?


Joe C. said...

Sounds like you're in for a busy and fun semester! I am glad your idea for an upper level French class was accepted. Professors are usually open to such initiative. I recall doing a lot of self-study on Kafka, as our European Literature courses at UMF were limited. I think I got three credits out of it...

Therese said...

Nice! That sounds quite interesting - I should read some Kafka sometime. Yeah, I was glad it was accepted too. I was largely worried about how last-minute the whole suggestion was. Hopefully I'll do enough work to get an A: I'm realizing how much more confusing it is in some respects to try to pace yourself properly when the teacher's expectations and deadlines aren't always clear from the beginning. Am I doing enough reading? Am I writing enough? One can only hope...