the semester has begun, and i am reveling in the fact that i am no longer a small fish in a big pond. well, rice isn’t exactly a big pond. i suppose last year i was a small fish in a relatively small pond full of older more experienced fish.
but i am now more or less the size of one of those freaky goldfish you find in the decorative ponds in front of japanese cook-on-your-table restaurants. walking into the seminar room this year felt like that great scene in the first season of scrubs when JD and his friends walked through the hospital, striding to a new groove because they finally had their own med students to boss around.
of course, i don’t plan on bossing around any first-year grad students. unless they’re being obnoxious and i’m feeling fiesty.
this semester represents a new era of masochism in my academic career, as i’ve decided to take on about twelve-too-many projects. i’m taking three classes, TAing one, working a regular schedule at Studies in English Literature, and contracting out my style-editing services to Feminist Economics. this will also be the year of the Wedding Planning (the cake-tasting is now only a month away… all life post-cake-tasting will seem boring and somehow unsatisfying. at least that one involves food tasting. more grad seminars should involve food tastings.*
i’m TAing for a 20th century class. i had requested a british survey (it was 18th/19th century i believe), but i didn’t get my first choice. i’m relatively pleased with the assignment, especially because i’ve only read two books on the course list and therefore will have a constant excuse to be reading something new. including woolf, turtola, rushdie, lessing, gordimer, kipling, and joyce. and, of course, i have to read heart of darkness. again.
my milton grad seminar seems a little more promising than i had hoped. i’m a little miffed that we’re not using the riverside edition of milton’s collected verse, which i bought for eighty-freakin-dollars as an undergrad. instead, we’re required to purchase a longmans edition of paradise lost that is annotated within an inch of its life at fifty dollars. i have spent way too much money on milton in my life. but the professor seems enthusiastic and extremely smart, if a little scattered, and he’s interested in studying “the other milton,” whom he defines as a man who isn’t the yawn-worthy patriarch much criticism makes him out to be.
my 400-level course on the victorian family met for the first time today, and it turns out that kevin and i are going to be the only students in the class. so, despite it’s 400-level designation, it’s really a graduate seminar. the class is taught by a visiting professor who seems very on top of things, and she’s interested in tailoring the syllabus to our interests, which is always a good sign. and she’s from canada, so she’s totally disconcerted by the fact that it’s about 5000 degrees outside. kevin informed her quite rightly that the weather will be much more disconcerting in a much more pleasant manner in november, when she’s still able to read her students’ papers poolside. we’re reading frankenstein, which i haven’t even opened since high school, and the tenant of wildfell hall, an anne bronte novel i’ve never read. and dombey and son, which is really damn long.
last but not least i’m taking a class on victorian material constructions, which is completely different from anything i’ve taken before. we’re only reading three novels. and damn it, heart of darkness is one of them. joseph conrad must have had a beef with me in another life. but we’re going to spend a lot of time talking about the production, circulation, and social history surrounding material objects, which is not only a hot topic in academia right now but also interesting to me. we’re also reading an article on victorian wedding cakes and another on the fetishization of gloves in the renaissance. it will be a very quirky class. case in point, the following comments were made during our first meeting:
“well, light bulbs can also be used in some very erotic ways.”
“i thought these were vitamins, but i was wrong. they’re dog pills, and this is causing me much anxiety.”
“you’re using the word ‘anthropomorphic’ in yours? wow, mine sucks now.”
“you mean someone stole this from elizabeth barret browning’s house?”
so yeah. that one will be fun.
but i’m off to have some stress-dreams, which have also returned with the semester.
*last semester there was a grad seminar that involved food tastings. it was a food and culture class, and each week one student cooked up one of their family recipes. i totally should have taken that seminar.