With a new semester comes a new schedule, which for most college students musters visions of New Beginnings and Possibility and Excitement. I can only dream of someday feeling the same.
Every semester I promise myself that I’ll become one of these put-together, on-top-of-their life students, who plans their schedule exactly as they should ahead of time, and buys their textbooks exactly as they should ahead of time, and every semester, without fail, I find myself spending 12 hours a day “sampling” classes that I want to take and know I don’t have time for and during the two-and-a-half shopping period at the beginning of the semester, overwhelmed by a new schedule that for me musters visions of terror and indecision and flabbergasted-ness and inevitably, the so-called “failure at life” feared by so many.
I’m sure you’ve guessed already that this semester was no different. Expect, this time, I’m proud to say that
I alone I, with much help from the advisers in the School of Arts & Sciences, managed to finalize my schedule for the next semester a few…hours before the add/drop deadline. Progress! Hooray.
Long, anxiety-ridden introductions aside, I’ve never been unhappy with an academic decision that I’ve made at WashU. In fact, I’ve absolutely loved all of the classes I’ve taken. So far, I’ve read some of the best that modern fiction has to offer, eaten cupcakes home-made by charitable classmates at Italian movie screenings, and written a paper on the notorious street artist Banksy for my Writing I class, which I took as a special Text and Tradition seminar on the nature of “Originality, Intellectual Property, and Authorship” last semester. Who said required classes had to be boring?
Anyway, without further ado, here’s what I’m taking this semester:
– Third-Level Modern Japanese
This is a very awesome class I’m taking with our awesome Japanese department to keep myself from forgetting my Japanese. The “intensive, interactive classroom experience,” as it’s described on their website, “with class size limited to 15 students, is aimed at fostering natural fluency and cultural competence”. Our homework involves watching videos of native speakers talk and practicing their conversations as if we were in an acting class, which is unlike any foreign language study I’ve ever done before and has proven to be a lot of fun so far.
– French Level 4: Advanced French
This is the class most people will place into if they took the AP Exam in high school. It’s only been two weeks into the school year but so far we’ve already watched a pretty decent movie (Confidences trop intimes), started reading a pretty decent book (No et Moi) and have learned a boatload of grammar…grammar’s no fun, but at least I can feel myself getting a better grasp of the language. All in all, it looks promising so far.
–The Modernist Revolution in the Arts
This is a Comparative Literature class aimed for graduate students that I kinda sorta tried to sneak into as a sophomore…and was ultimately successful at doing so, because at WashU, anything is possible (with the permission of your professor, anyway)! So now I’m taking an upper-level seminar that aims to uncover the exact nature of the Modernist movement, but on the students’ terms. Most interestingly, our class is constructing the course syllabus based on our own interests, and every week one of us will offer a presentation on a subject of our choice relating to the modernist movement.
As if that’s not enough, here’s the original course description to give you a better idea of what convinced me that I needed to take this class:
What is/was Modernism? How did this worldwide phenomenon impact the arts in every genre and medium from the turn of the Twentieth Century to the present? Do we still live in the age of Modernism, or should we consider ours a new, Post-Modern age? This course will examine these and other questions as they relate to the theatre, prose, poetry, and the visual arts. Our investigation will focus on most of the major literary and artistic movements, including Naturalism, Impressionism, Symbolism, Surrealism, and Expressionism. We will examine literary manifestoes which help to illuminate the periods under discussion, as well as look at individual works themselves. Central to our approach in the course will be an interdisciplinary perspective. Among the luminaries whose work will be considered are Ibsen, Strindberg, Chekhov, Hemingway, Dali, Picasso, Stravinsky, Artaud, Kafka, and Beckett.
–West African Dance
Except maybe not, so I’ll do a little bit of explaining: I’m taking a studio course on traditional dances of West Africa. We wear wrap skirts and try to learn some crazy moves. I’m taking it through UCollege, which is the continuing education school at WashU that students are allowed to take one class from per semester for credit. Very popular with students, these classes range from academic ones not normally offered through the university like journalism to fun classes like improv and pilates and West African dance.
–Foundations in African and African American Studies
A one-credit class designed to introduce students to issues in African & African American Studies and the fantastic members of the AFAS department. It’s the perfect way for me to get an overview of the subject without having to take an intensive introductory class.
–Migration & Modernity: Human Mobility, Identity & State Formation-Russian/Soviet/post-Soviet Context
This class introduces students to a broad history of 19th and 20th century Russia and the Soviet Union alongside problems of migration. According to the course listings website:
In this class, students will be introduced to the historical, social, and political dimensions of migration within, to, and from the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union, and its successor states. We will look at the intersection of the movement of people with long-term economic, social and political transformations, but also pay attention to crucial events and phenomena of Soviet history that set large-scale migrations in motion. Course materials will, for instance, address mass movements related to modernization and internal colonization, analyze the role of revolutionary change and warfare for forced displacement, and study the implications of geopolitical changes in the aftermath of the breakdown of the USSR for human rights discourses. Alongside the historically grounded overview, the class explores concepts of citizenship, diaspora, nationality policy, gender specific experiences of migration, and the ethics and political economy of migration politics, thereby highlighting how current trends in Russian society are indicative of broader discourses on difference and social transformation.
My favorite class. We eavesdrop on conversations, go on verbal scavenger hunts, and look up weird online dating profiles for inspiration to write exercises and stories and get our creative juices flowing.
All in all, seems like a promising semester is in the works.