Friday, July 6, 2007

This show's called 'Goddess,' it ain't called 'classes.'

Thought I should take this little night-time break to talk about my classes. Oh, I mean "lectures," as they are known here. "Classes" are for little kids. Oh well, I'm saying classes, 'cause that's what I mean.

Creative Writing

I like it. Absolutely the least challenging of all of my classes, though certainly not the one with the least work. This is my 4-week class, designed to get our creative juices flowing, go figure. Our instructor is Emma Sweeney, an aspiring British writer, and she's... okay. Not really that inspiring, by any means, but she's informative and helpful, and that's what matters.

The end result of the class is supposed to be a 3,000 word story, or an excerpt from one. Part of me really thinks I should attempt a short story, and do my best to perfect it, but with my grade hanging in the balance, I feel it would be in my best interest to stick with what is already on my mind and what I've been working on. So I will probably turn in the first portion of Circus on the Mount, which probably has the clearest voice of anything I've started writing, and I simply love my characters and want to work with them more.

We'll be talking with guest writers (met Jill Dawson last week, and Matt Morrison -- a playwright -- is meeting with us next week), and mainly getting ourselves in the habit of writing everyday. I suck at this. I usually wait for inspiration to hit, and that is really bad. Gotta stop doing that.

1940's British Cinema and Identity

This class was basically designed with my father in mind: film history, Europe (focus: Britain) and WWII. Documentaries and all the fabulous war-related films made throughout the 1940's. We've already watched several documentary shorts by Humphrey Jennings, which was beyond exciting (not really). Future screenings will include:

In Which We Serve
Millions Like Us
The Way Ahead
A Canterbury Tale
Passport to Pimlico

and clips from various other stuff like Henry V and This Happy Breed

I dunno.

My professor is from Oxford, and is very biased against Cambridge, though he thought it best to refrain from telling us exactly why Oxford is superior, and he is a little bit of a diva. He might be murdered by the King's TAs, because he is constantly making demands when he doesn't need to. Luckily, for us, anyway, he likes us and has a really good sense of humor. Tall, skinny, very British man, and extremely, extremely smart; he designed the one and only Film Studies exams for high schoolers going on to college that are still used all over Britain. He's very proud, as well he should be.

Like most classes, our assignments involve one big-ass paper and a final exam. Teachers have a general mentality of "Well... I guess you're supposed to write a paper... so... that's what you'll do, I guess." "Sir, what on?" "Um.... let me think about it." Yeah. So now there are a wide variety of things we can write about, which is both awesome and kind of annoying. Luckily this is one of my 8-week courses, so I have time to think about it. (One of our options is to write a portion of a WWII-related screenplay. Too bad I don't know how to write screenplays.)

Oh, and Cute Guy is in this class. =)

Early Modern British Theatre

These lectures put every university-level lecture I've ever had in my entire life to shame. I have never, in my life, sat through a more jam-packed, informative and mind-boggling spew of theatre-related ramblings. Not ever. This is without a doubt the hardest class I've ever had.

I have two professors, both PhD's, and they both look like they are probably in their early 30's. So far, Andrew has done the lectures and Christopher has led the one seminar. They will be switching off. I can't even begin to describe to you the way that Andrew talks. I mean... I have to laugh out loud sometimes in lecture, he is so fast and so effin smart, knowledge pours out of him in ways I didn't think were possible for what appears to be an average-sized head.

We are reading several plays (1 per week, to be exact):

Thomas Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy,
Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus
Ben Jonson's Volpone, Or, The FoxThomas Middleton's The ChangelingJohn Webster's The Duchess of Malfi
Shakespeare's King Lear, Richard II
and Twelfth Night (seriously, will I never escape this play??)

The focus is on historical context, relating mainly to religion and the theatricality that stemmed from the development of humanism and the counter-Reformation and beyond and beyond. Another class my father would love, all kinds of goodies relating to the formation of Protestantism in Britain and the resentful attitude of the Puritans and how Queen Elizabeth I was insistent on the traditional hats for 'clergy' and that all alters faced the east, but didn't care at all about actual beliefs and blah de blah, and how this is expressed in certain ways within the plays. Actually, the theme of the plays is revenge, the big bad of tragedies. So... you can just imagine how over-zealous these lectures seem. I'm not sure where I am half the time.

I mean, antiquarianism?!?! What the hell is that?!

Le sigh. I'm recording them. I'll see what I can do about posting a clip so you can understand it when my head explodes. This is, without a doubt, what a Cambridge course is expected to be like. There's a paper, I think, but who really knows what's going on.

HOWEVER! WE GET TO SEE PLAYS! Yay! And lots of them. We'll be seeing Othello in London next weekend, and there is the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival happening for the next month (The Taming of the Shrew, Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing, Romeo & Juliet, The Tempest, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Twelfth Night [ugh! I'm so over it!], and Macbeth [which should be frightening to watch]). I'll keep you updated. I probably won't get a chance to see every one, but who knows.

Who knows, indeed.


  1. that is so rude, because HE is the one that brought up classes in the first place.

    glad you're having fun with your classes. I am DYING to do something theatre related. Alex and I are doing costumes and makeup for a student film and that's the closest i can get to we're making the most of it.
    i made a little 4th of July blog just for you and barb :) check it out.

  2. Your classes sound amazing and difficult and everything a cambridge class should be. I'm so proud of you, I could punch a baby.