Category Archives: School

Last Paper In!

Who can write 20 pages of academic prose in one day when she really sets her mind on it? That would be me. That moment when procrastination turns into focused concentration? Good moment. Although it apparently hit too early this time, because I had two hours to spare. ;)

So that’s my last assignment ever for my last class ever. Of this Master’s degree. I have very little faith in my ability to stay away from school for ever. But for now. Yay.

The paper was on Godard, and I’ll probably post it on The Frame once I get it back and, you know, have confirmation that it didn’t totally suck. I feel good about it, which is usually a bad sign, so we’ll see.

Wow, you know what this means? I can read ANYTHING I WANT before going to bed now. I haven’t done that since…well, Christmas, but even then I was trying to read ahead for classes. So, then, since 2006. Really. I’m not sure I remember how to make reading decisions on my own. I’m a little overwhelmed by the possibilities.

Life Update

I know I’ve been lax on the old blog lately. I claim a combination of schoolwork, socializing, nearing-graduation stress, returning television shows, and generally not much interesting going on. Oh, and also the part where I’ve gotten in Twitter a lot more and am post one-off thoughts there instead of collecting them together into a blog-sized post. That gets most everything I want to say out of my system so it doesn’t end up here, which can be good or bad, I guess, depending on how you look at it. The socializing has been largely responsible for my not being around and live-blogging American Idol. Various people have wondered what’s going on with me, though, so here’s a bulleted update.

  • American Idol – I’ve been ragging on Carly a lot, but honestly, I was pretty shocked when she went home instead of Jason. I’ve also supported Jason mostly throughout the show, but that was a trainwreck of a performance on his part, and I think he’s pretty well proven that, much to my disappointment, he’s a one-trick pony. So America got that one way wrong. For me, though, David Cook has it locked. Which means he’ll probably get voted off next. Just my luck.
  • School – In case you didn’t catch the edit to my post about the oral exam, I did pass it. Which is a major yay. Actually, it was sort of enjoyable – a conversation about books and film with really smart people. :) Except one professor kept asking me about Faulkner even though I admitted to never reading any Faulkner. Guess I know what’s next on my reading list! And a friend and I gave a joint presentation in Literary Criticism yesterday which went surprisingly well. And now I just have two seminar papers left, and I’m fairly comfortable with them, so stress-level has fallen exponentially in the last two days.
  • Post-Grad Plans – My current plans are to take a couple of weeks after graduation, maybe spend a week here hanging out with friends minus finals week stress and a week at home, then move to Los Angeles. I’m looking for jobs at USC or UCLA (not teaching; administrative), or pretty much anywhere out there that will pay me to do something I can do. ;) I mostly just want to live in a big city for a while, at least, and LA won out over New York due to climate.
  • Television – Most of the TV shows are back from the writer’s strike now, which caught me by surprise, a bit – I had gotten used to my DVR NOT filling up every week. ;) The fact that I found the writer’s strike a bit of a relief probably means I’m following too many shows, but I can’t figure out which ones to give up. And the down side is that I ended up picking up a bunch of Bravo reality shows during the strike, and now I don’t want to give those up either. Good thing most of them are short. Anyway, the big television news around here is that Battlestar Galactica is back! After marathoning S3 on DVD, my friends and I jumped straight into the fourth and final season, and it is frakking amazing. If you’re not watching this show, get the DVDs and start. Don’t start in the middle.
  • Gaming – GTA IV came out last night at midnight, and I went and got it. At midnight. Only time I’ve ever done that for a game, though I’ve been to midnight movie premieres. One. Harry Potter. Anyway. I wasn’t able to stay awake for more than a couple of hours gaming once I got home (I’m getting old, what can I say?), but it’s pretty sweet. Graphics are beautiful, Liberty City is HUGE. I was afraid that it’d seem small after the three-city-plus-desert of San Andreas, but no. It’s ginormous, and with so much stuff going on that I’ve repromised myself never, ever to drive in New York City (on which Liberty City is based). It’s craziness. I also used Amazon.com gift certificates to upgrade to Gold on Xbox Live, so I’m set for multiplayer, once I can tear myself away from the single-player campaign.
  • Socializing – It’s starting to hit me that I’m leaving here in like a month, and though I feel confident in the strength of the friendships I’ve made over the past two years (and the power of Facebook) that I’ll keep in contact with most of my friends, I have been trying to spend as much time as possible with them all before I leave. And I’m at that place where I’m glad to be almost done with school, and I’m very glad to be leaving Waco, but I’m not at all glad about leaving all the people here. I know everyone goes through that every time we change life situations, but that doesn’t make it any easier.

So that’s pretty much my life right now.

Oral Exam

Update: I passed!

I have my oral examination tomorrow, which decides whether or not I, you know, graduate. It’s really hard to study two and a half years of coursework, especially those parts you didn’t really care for and weren’t planning to need to know again. *fingers crossed* the old memory holds up. My mind is a bit more at ease after the chair of my committee (who’s also teaching my Victorian Lit class) talked to me briefly tonight about how he plans to conduct the exam – mostly a guided conversation, sounds like.

However, he also said “I don’t really know how someone would fail an exam like this.” I never know how to take it when people say that. I know it’s meant to be encouraging, but think of what a catastrophe it would be if I DID fail after he said that? The pressure!

I kid, mostly. I’m really not that concerned about it, but it is sort of important, and it is oral (and I tend to get tonguetied), and I’m not too sure what all they’re going to ask. So anyway, if you could have me in your thoughts tomorrow, I’d be appreciative.

Imitating Roland Barthes

We read Roland Barthes for our Critical Theory class this week. And I have learned stuff. For instance, from this quote from Image-Music-Text:

Narrative thus appears as a succession of tightly interlocking mediate and immediate elements; dystaxia determines a ‘horizontal’ reading, while integration superimposes a ‘vertical’ reading: there is a sort of structural ‘limping’, an incessant play of potentials whose varying falls give the narrative its dynamism or energy: each unit is perceived at once in its surfacing and in its depth and it is thus that the narrative ‘works’; through the concourse of these two movements the structure ramifies, proliferates, uncovers itself – and recovers itself, pulls itself together: the new never fails in its regularity.

What have I learned, you ask? That apparently I can use as many semicolons and colons within a single sentence as I darn well please! Plus a dash, thank you very much. Now every time professors ask me to rephrase rather than use dashes or semicolons, I’m going to point to this passage and say “Barthes did it.” Note for any fiction writers out there, you can use Jane Eyre to pull the same trick; I swear, she’s got some sentences that go on for a whole page – separated only by semicolons and dashes. Or Vanity Fair, which has the most prodigious dash use I’ve seen in my life, and believe me, I love me some dashes.

Critical Theory Class

So in my last semester of my M.A. in English lit, I decided to take critical theory. You know, after I’ve already written all but like one or two of the critical papers I’ll have to write. But hey. Actually, I’ve never taken critical theory, or literary criticism, or any of those types of things–I’ve done some reading in it on my own, so I’m vaguely familiar with most of the big names and critical approaches, but nothing formal or consistent. After the first class today, I think I’m really going to enjoy it. The discussion we had (the first half of which tried to answer the question “What is literature” and the second half started looking at Russian Formalism) was stimulating, and I actually said stuff! No, seriously, this is huge for me. I think I made it through last semester without talking in class at all. Not quite true, but close.

On the downside, there are three 12-15 page papers and a presentation. Three! Plus a presentation which is supposed to imitate presenting at a conference, which is basically another 10-page paper. No long paper, though, unless we want to combine the second and third papers into one 25-pager. Which I’m unlikely to do, because much longer than 18 pages makes me crazy. On the upside, the professor is perfectly happy for me to do them on critical theory in film if I want instead of literature! Which is so totally awesome, because for whatever reason, most theoretical approaches make perfect sense to me when applied to film, but I can’t follow them as well in literature. So I already end up explaining literary theory to myself in terms of film theory. So that’s exciting.

The professor, by the way, is totally brilliant. You know when you just hear someone talk for like five minutes, and it’s not like what they’re saying is hard to understand or anything, but you can just tell they’re totally brilliant? It’s like that. And he’s British, which makes him seem even more brilliant (studied at Oxford and St. Andrews, even). He was really good at making us do the discussing, and disagreeing with us to make us clarify what we were saying, and yet never seem to disagree with us in a way that made us want to stop talking or feel like we had to agree with him. Socratic, I guess it was, but less…probing.

I was definitely right about this semester being more challenging than last semester. Critical theory isn’t easy reading, throw in essentially two more papers than I’m now used to in a class, not to mention the gazillions of pages I’ll be reading for Victorian Novel (that class isn’t until Thursday) and whatever papers we’ll have there, and not to mention trying to take my oral exam in March…busier I will be. I’m sort of glad the writer’s strike has ended most of my TV shows, because I wouldn’t have time to watch them anyway, and that would make me sad.