Thursday, September 27, 2007

This class will make your brain hurt

So said Bill Rankin, our jolly, red-bearded medievalist professor, to a class full of literary theory students four years ago. (Has it really been THAT long since I first cracked open the Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism - which, by the way, I'm using again this semester?) His declaration was, I think, partially intended to scare us, but also to prepare us for what lay ahead. In one semester we would have a go at the entire history of literary theory, from Plato and Aristotle to very recent feminist, Marxist and other "flavours" of postmodern criticism. We would slog through texts from Freud to Arnold to Fish. We would debate the finer points of semiotics and post-structuralism. And yes, that class did make my brain hurt.

I've just finished my first week as a grad student: one lecture on Tuesday night, one tonight. And while I believe I'm going to tremendously enjoy these classes and their challenges, yes, they are going to make my brain hurt.

The class on Tuesdays will deal with research methods and literary theory, covering some ground I've trod before while excavating new depths in said ground. There are about 17 students and it will be taught turn-about by various members of the English department. (At ACU, that would be a circus. We'll see how it plays out here.)

My Thursday class is much smaller (three students and two tutors, but only one tutor at a time), and we will be tracing the history of the body and of spaces in early modern English literature. Don't get that last part? I'm still grasping it myself. But we're going to look at perceptions of the body along with the evolution of anatomy and sexuality, and also in terms of gender-bending (we're starting with two Shakespearean comedies). For the "spaces" part, we'll look at English country houses, fantastic voyages, colonization, and London as a centre for change and commerce.

The Ireland post will come soon, I promise - but I did want to celebrate the completion of my first week. Here's to many more challenging and enlightening discussions, and (I hope) a couple of brilliant essays at the end of it all.


Blogger Julie said...

Good luck with your new brain-bending classes, my dear. You will do marvelously!

4:57 PM  
Blogger Laurie said...

Yes, best wishes as you start this journey. The classes sound so interesting--and we already know that you will do great!

10:59 PM  
Blogger Beverly said...

you go little smartie..i get my students to kiss their brains when they amaze me and just kiss your hand and put your hand to your kiss your brain for me..

12:12 AM  
Blogger ~lady j said...

KATIE!!!! our vehicles are distant, yet adoring cousins!!! i love you. :) and i hope all your classes are terrifically exciting.

AND i too love your red shoes. :)

(and just so you know, my car and your bike are actually named after a very saucy and capable female assassin-- so if she starts giving you any sauce-- you'll know why. ;)

1:00 AM  

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