Thursday, January 20, 2011

That Week Went By Quickly

I just returned from my first day of classes, or should I say my first week; I have but a single recitation on Fridays, so my weekend is essentially in effect (forgiving, of course, tonight's Mock Trial).

Philosophy 92: Special Topics: Language, Thought, and Culture
I walked into the classroom to find a handful of students, each sitting equidistant from one another, looking at their blank notebooks, today's date written in the top corner. No one broke the ice; I took a seat in the middle of the room. Soon, my friend Alex joined; I didn't know he was in the class with me. The professor walked in, younger than I expected. And female - I would have thought "Brian Epstein" would be a male (comments on the name welcome at bottom of post). Alex asked what class we were in. "Israeli/Palestinian Conflict." Ruh roh. Turns out there had been a room change since we last printed our schedules. Way to notify the students, Administration.

The actual class was fuller, more friendly, and headed by a tall man holding a piece of chalk. Best I can tell, the course will function as a discussion-based seminar with emphasis on student participation. We begun by discussing the Republican's choice of name for the anti-Healthcare bill (Bill to Repeal the Job-Killing Health-Care Law). In that example, the politicians are looking to focus the discussion to jobs, not health. This segued into a discussion of word choice, semantics, and syntax.

Questions touched upon included: can the words we use evoke specific thoughts? Can the words we use prevent specific thoughts? Can the words we have at our disposal (or lack thereof) make us prone to or even incapable of thinking certain things?

We will be reading from 1984 (focus on "newspeak," the enforced language of Orwell's futuristic government) and "Language of the Third Reich," focus on Nazi speak, stereotype, and propaganda. The course should look into the underlying meanings in our words, philosophic debate throughout history, and the effects (or lack thereof) of language on the way we perceive reality. In short, it sounds exactly as I imagined it, and it sounds very, very good.

Sociology 1: Introduction to Sociology
Once again, the people in charge of scheduling had a last-minute change of heart, moving us from 202 to 201, only without telling anyone. Once in the appropriate classroom, we were greeted by a fairly young but clearly experienced woman with a passion for sociology, an ironic sense of Alaskan humor, and an appreciation of audiovisual media. We may not focus as much on media and criminology as I may have hoped, but the course will nonetheless be a great study of group interactions, societal norms, and asking questions.

While the last of three textbooks is now in its second edition, published within the last few weeks, if not days, it is still unclear whether the first edition would suffice (for half the price). She will be getting back to us once her copy comes in and she reads it.

The course is laptop-friendly, but the room has no Wi-Fi. That's good for paying attention, but not so good for scrambling to check SIS to see if my next class, too, had a room change.

Drama 10: Introduction to Acting
It didn't. The room, however, is impossible to find; I followed upperclassmen, three of whom are in Mock Trial. We walked through many hallways, most of which housed music practice rooms, and so we had our very own patched-together theme music for the journey. As they are not exactly sound-proof, I wonder why students go there to practice.

The course itself let out more than an hour early, and, considering it is supposed to be a 2.25 hour course, that was a relief. It seems like a low-stress environment with plenty of improv games, monologues, and peer-review. Memorizing dialogue doesn't seem like a ton of fun, but spending some time each week moving about and being silly could be. It's an additional excuse to go see shows, and it should be good meeting/bonding time with other students. As for when I eat dinner on Tuesday/Thursdays, I'm still unsure. On the flip side, I have no classes until 1:30 PM.

Until next time,


  1. Philosophy 92 - Reminds me of when you called me a, "Global Warming denier" -- and how your word choice immediately implied I was denying something true. Brian, you were born to take this course! :)

    -Michael in Minneapolis (where it's a bone chilling, Global Warming, -24 degrees out today)

  2. Did I say that to you? Oh dear; sorry =) But yes - the course seems pretty awesome - the prof asked us each to say why we were there, and I brought up politics/rhetoric, and he made some comment about the political example from today being out of the ordinary, saying that we will mostly focus on history/literature; but that's fine - that's easily applicable to debate and speech - after all, Orwell's "literature" is really fairly political, and Nazi "history" is equally so.


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