Friday, January 6, 2012

What I'm Taking This Semester

New semester (last semester!), new classes. Here's what I'm taking:

1. Senior Seminar in Fiction

This is the capstone class for my major, and the main goal of it is to complete a senior "thesis" in fiction. For us, that means 50 pages of either connected short stories or a novel excerpt. The stories can be connected through character, setting, or theme. My section is taught by Irina Reyn, author of What Happened to Anna K. I'm pretty excited about it. I am going to use a story that I wrote for my grad school applications and branch off from those characters (siblings) to write a few more stories. I know a few people in the class from previous courses, but there's definitely not as much overlap as in my previous writing classes, and I'm happy that I'll get to see some work from new people. My biggest hope for the class is that because it's a senior capstone and a small class, everyone will take it seriously and strive to create the best work possible.

We're reading short stories from the PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories 2011 Allison Amend's book Things That Pass For Love. Allison teaches at Pitt as well, and she's going to come in to talk with the class near the end of the term.

2. Writing Well, Grammar and Style: Sentence Workshop

This is my wildcard class for the semester. It's taught by Lois Williams, who lead a brief workshop I attended last semester. The whole class is focused on writing amazing sentences and using grammar, style, and punctuation to experiment with sentence structures. I'm taking it with one of my best friends in the program, and I'm hoping that it will be my low-stress class for the semester. One of the best parts about it is that the only required text is a $15 course packet, which is great because I am broke and can't technically afford my books this semester.

3. 19th Century British Literature

This is a historical period course that is required for my literature minor. I'm not very happy about having to take it because even though I love 19th C. Brit. Lit., we're not really reading that much that I'm into. We also have to buy two Norton Anthologies, which just pisses me off because I pretty much hate Norton and don't want to give them any money. So yeah. We started off the class by watching an incredibly dull British documentary from the '70s about the relationship between Romantic painting and poetry. I would probably drop this class if I could, but I need it to graduate.

4. Junior Seminar in Literature: English Country Houses

I am taking this class with Marah Gubar, who made one of the best first impressions any professor has made on me. She was so enthusiastic and friendly and made us all feel really comfortable and familiar even in the first class. The reading list in this class is astounding: Mansfield Park, Jane Eyre, The Secret Garden, Remains of the Day, Atonement, and How I Live Now. This is the third time I will be studying Jane Eyre in a class; it's my favorite book. I am ridiculously excited for this class.

5. Comparative Views of Freedom, 19th and 20th Centuries

I am taking this class with Leslie Hammond. This is my third class with her, and she is easily the best history professor I have ever had. This class is fulfilling my final general education requirement.

6. Independent Study

I am working on an independent study with my adviser, Lori Campbell. It is a hybrid literature and fiction independent study that focuses on the legacy of 19th century Gothic fiction by women. It's basically an excuse to read a bunch of my favorite books.

In other news, today was a really good library day. Here's what I got:
The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
A Writer's Diary by Virginia Woolf
On Secrets, Lies, and Silence by Adrienne Rich
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

I haven't read any books in about a week because I have been absolutely obsessed with reading journalism on longform.org. It's basically the best thing ever.

Hopefully soon updates on some of the books I listed and my current writing projects (of which there are many. Perhaps too many).

-Taylor

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