Seminar: Is it really as stressful as they say?
By Erik Davis
Each year I would hear all of the seniors
complaining about how challenging their particular Senior Seminar
class was, but this year I assure you that it is much more
challenging than it ever has been before. It started with our
Dr. Bruce chose to focus the course on Russian
Literature. She is most interested in exposing us to aspects
of the literature and culture that are "uniquely Russian." The
secondary theme of our course is analyzing how Russian authors
influenced their American counterparts. I have discovered that examining Russian literature can
be quite frustrating because it is long, complex, and often
decidedly dreary. It is much different from the American and
British literature that I am accustomed to reading in the surveys
and special topics courses I have taken thus far. We are
reading works from many of the most famous Russian authors including
Pushkin, Gogol, Dostoyevsky, Chekhov, Tolstoy, Turgenev, Gorky, etc.
The works follow Russian literary history from its humble beginnings
to modern day authors who are still writing. Russian
literature typically deals with extremely complex issues in an
ambiguous manner. That is to say that a piece of Russian literature
almost never makes one clear point. I have found that there are
hardly ever distinct “good guys” or “bad guys;” each character has
some redeeming aspects and many faults. In this way Russian
literature is more realistic than American or British Literature,
but also infinitely more frustrating to read. The worst part is
that the ending of most Russian works is quite anticlimactic. After
spending days fighting my way through a thick tome of Dostoyevsky
the reward at the end always seems to be less than satisfactory.
Many of my colleagues have shared similar opinions; Megan Carlson
described her feelings in this way, "Russian Literature: it's all
Greek to me."
So far, this course has demanded much more
individual accountability from my classmates and me than previous
courses I have taken as an English major. Each day one member of
our class is responsible for making up study questions and leading
the discussion for a book. This forces that student to take all the
responsibility for making the class enjoyable by creating and
guiding meaningful discussion. The first few classes were
pretty rough because the questions did not spawn discussion.
At the class has progressed, and we have figured out what Dr. Bruce
is looking for, the questions and discussions have gotten better.
It requires writing leading questions that get at the themes and
cruxes within the text, rather than simple recall and recognition. It has taken my class a while to
adapt to this amount of responsibility, but things seem to be going
slightly more smoothly now.
I was also busy working on the first major
step towards completing my research paper; my prospectus. A
prospectus outlines the central idea of one’s paper and also
discusses the research methods that will be required while pursuing
one’s topic. Including these elements in a meaningful way meant
that I had to have completed quite a bit of work on my topic before
turning it in. To give everyone who will be taking senior
seminar sooner or later an idea about what you will be expected to
do for your senior research assignment I will give you my topic.
It is still a work in progress, so far I am looking at how Turgenev
influenced and was influenced by French, German, and English
Romantics; specifically as it shows up in Turgenev's Fathers and
Sons. I still need to do all sorts of research to figure
out what specifically I going to write about, and to narrow down my
idea to a workable thesis statement.
This assignment was extremely challenging for most
everyone in the class. Dr. Bruce wanted each of us to pick out an original
topic that was complex enough to make for a great paper, while
making sure it was not so abstract that no research could be found
on it. Striking this balance was especially hard for me, and I
spent quite a bit of time in Dr. Bruce’s office talking through my
ideas with her before I landed on something that worked for both of
us. Many of my classmates share a similar experience. Generating a
suitable topic for a major research paper, entirely on my own,
required much thought and planning.
The next major project is putting together the
famed English Portfolio, but I will save that story for next time.
Upon entering English 200,
taught by Professor Mark Willhardt, I was quite confident in my
ability to compose suitable essays and understand the conventions of
the English language. I hate to admit that I expected to relearn
the basics and merely demonstrate my knowledge and skill for sixteen
weeks before moving on to more challenging courses. Not long after
these initial assumptions did I realize much of my education was
misinformed and the skills that once earned me praise were now
representations of my own laziness and misunderstanding.
Along with my
original state of mind—arrogance--the first few weeks in
Introduction to English were spent in confusion and distress, (and
what a blast they were!) but my uneasiness has since settled. The
first assignment was to define the term “assay,” and although I did
not believe an actual word existed, I assured myself that this would
be the first of many simple tasks. How easily I was fooled! It was
soon made clear that I was being asked to do much more than
recognize rules of grammar and punctuation. I, along with the rest
of the class, am expected to strain and struggle and question
everything I have been taught.
overcoming the uncomfortable realization that I do not, in fact,
know everything there is to know about poetry, literature, and
language, I got to work. Four assays and one heck of an essay
later, I am still struggling to settle what I know, what I think I
know, and what I desperately need to know but am too embarrassed to
ask. A few things do reassure me, however: a class that appears to
share my concerns, a teacher who cares enough about my success to
point out my failures, and a drive to become the competent writer
and critical thinker that I once thought I was.
Fighting World Hunger with a
By Megan Carlson
ever wanted to stand up for a good cause?
Have you ever wanted to practice your
vocabulary skills? At freerice.com, your
desires can become a reality. By answering
correctly the meaning of words, you can send
rice to those less fortunate around the
world. How is this done, you ask?
Advertisers who support the mission of freerice.com post their companies at the
bottom of the webpage, and for every word
that you correctly answer, the money made by
the advertisement pays for 20 grains of
rice. Words like magnanimous (generous),
souse (drench), and helical (spiral)
challenge and improve your vocabulary. The
home page states alluringly, “WARNING: This
game may make you smarter. It may improve
your speaking, writing, thinking, grades,
and job performance.” With such great
possible outcomes, what do you have to
lose? Especially when you could be saving
lives. The rice is shipped and given by the
United Way World Foods Programme which tries
to help people become self-reliant so that
they "escape hunger for good", as stated on
the website. The website also states
that 25,000 people die every year from
hunger and most are children. Since
October when the site opened, the vocab game
has provided 20,000 food rations for
refugees from Myanmar who are now in
Bangladesh. Next on their list of
countries for free rice are Cambodia,
Uganda, and Nicaragua. The Washington
Post wrote, “What if just knowing what a
word meant could help feed hungry people
around the world? Well, at FreeRice it
does . . . the totals have grown
exponentially.” Strengthening your
vocabulary has never seemed more worth it,
Straight To FreeRice right now, follow this
More about the World Food Programme, follow
Still Time to Apply for NYU Summer Publishing Institute!
For anyone interested in Publishing, this is the program for you.
This summer program is a six week intensive course into the worlds
of book, magazine, and digital publishing. The faculty
consists of many professionals including art directors, editors, and
authors. At the end of the program, there will even be
opportunities to interview with leading publishing companies.
NYU states that the The Summer Publishing Institute is intended for
recent graduates and young professionals trying to break into
publishing. The program goes from June 1st to July 11th and
costs $4,760. The application deadline is March 28th.
Don't miss out on this great opportunity!
For More Information, follow this link:
|Campus Events in March
February 28th-May 2nd
A Crimson Masque Production of
Waiting For Godot
This play, written by Samuel Beckett, is a superb
example of the "Theater of the Absurd". Beckett is known as
one of the first postmodernists and was friend and fan to James
Joyce. Waiting for Godot is one of his most well-known
plays which focuses on two men who wait for someone to arrive.
Grove Press states that the play is, "a comical
wordplay of poetry, dreamscapes, and nonsense, which has been
interpreted as a somber summation of mankind’s inexhaustible search
The tickets are $6 for the general public, $5 for
seniors and students, and $4 for those with MC ID's. The play
will be performed in Wells Theatre and the
times for performance are 7:30 p.m. for Thursday-Saturday and 2:00
p.m. for Sunday.
Tuesday March 4th
Blackfriar's Playhouse Touring
Troupe Presents William Shakespeare's
The Taming of the Shrew
The American Shakespeare Center, which is based in Shenandoah
Virginia, is coming to Monmouth College next Tuesday to do one
performance of The Taming of the Shrew for free! The
performance will be at 7:00 in the Dahl Chapel. The Touring
Troupe is renowned for their unique and humorous adaptations of the
Bard's plays. The Director writes that the play is, "an
Elizabethan farce that addresses the issues of freedom, equality,
and the primacy of marriage." Past performances at Monmouth
College include Much Ado About Nothing and The Tempest. The
performance is bound to be fun and informative and it's free!
Before Aspirations to be an English
Major, What Did You Want to be Growing Up?
- I wanted to be John Travolta; but more
importantly, I think it is interesting that being an English
major is an aspiration, but probably very true. It isn't
about the job you can secure after the major (a la an
Accounting major leads to a fairly specialized field). It is
simply about the privilege of claiming to be part of such a
damn sexy major, with such accomplished, beautiful faculty
and the rewarding intellectual development. I'd still rather
grow up to be John Travolta, but ya know - compromise. ~Luke
- I always wanted to be a forest or
park ranger; mostly because of their sweet uniforms.
Also because I have always harbored a love of nature.
Who knows, maybe I could have been the next Thoreau.
wanted to be a teacher when I was growing up.
I’ve wanted to be a teacher since the age of 6
actually. As I got older, the content area I
wanted to teach varied between math and music.
But I finally settled on English at the age of
13 when I was first published in a Young
Author’s anthology. (That was probably more than
you needed to know but as an English major, I
like to expand…… Ha-ha.) ~Fannetta Jones
always wanted to be an artist. ~Katelyn
singer for Ace of Base. ~Sara Hawk
- Well, I had
always dreamt of being a famous painter.
Painting is still a favorite past time
but I am really shy and have a really
hard time showing anyone my work, thus,
the ability to be famous kind of went
out the window... ~Jeremy Doze
wanted to be a Pulmonologist. This was,
of course, until family circumstances
scared me away from the profession. I
was in advanced biology classes all of
high school due to this ambition as
well! ~Kim Gratzke
I always wanted to be a teacher
(I wasn't sure what kind
of teacher, but it was always my
dream to teach). In high
school, I realized English
was my LOVE and favorite
subject, so I mixed the two and
am now aspiring to be a middle
school or high school teacher!
:-) ~Crystal Chalkey
- I wanted to
be either a marine biologist or
a veterinarian. ~Jessica Irons
wanted to be an orthodontist until I was
in high school, but I changed my focus
from teeth to teaching. Then, the only
logical subject that I could teach was
English... so here I am today! :) ~Sammy Morgan
always wanted to be Indiana Jones, but
not when he was at The Temple of Doom
because pulling beating hearts out of
someone's chest and eating giant roaches
was never my thing. ~Ryan Guttierez
- An archaeologist. ~Cat Ott
I wanted to do everything from being a lawyer to a
politician, to an
actress and a teacher.
I think I may still be
confused as to what I
want to do when I grow
up, but don't tell my
parents that! ~Paige
A Spanish teacher. ~Gail Kuster
- Duh. A Harlem
- Computer programmer. Then a cop. They would have both been miserable choices (although I would have been very good at programming). ~Marlo Belschner
- Either an archaeologist or a cartographer. Oh, and a cannibal. ~Raleigh Moon
- An Archaeologist. Indiana Jones was SO hot. ~Teresa Schryver
I recall the first time was is sixth grade when I had to formally, in an essay and through artwork, answer that question. I wrote that I wanted to be an ecologist, and then in high school I took a sharp turn and went into engineering, although I have studied ecology informally. Today ecology is a huge part of my life and will remain so probably for the rest of my life although I don’t see myself studying it formally or pursuing a career in that field. I have since taken another sharp turn towards studying English. Now there is a question, why do we often end up where we didn’t expect? ~ Suzanne Barber
- I wanted to be a mom. I still want to be a mom, but I think I'm going to have to work, too. Bummer. ~Anne Stone
- I wanted to be a paranormal investigator and manga-ka (artist of Japanese-style comics). ~Katie Moore
- I wanted to be an astronaut
( I was a child). That
is the only thing I remember clearly...~Manuel
- I have always been connected to English in some way because when I was growing up I wanted to be an author! ~Natalie Pistole
- I wanted to be a chemist so I could blow stuff up. ~Rob Hale