Monday, December 8, 2008

The perfect course schedule?

Hard to come by.

I've only really regretted one course in my graduate career, and that has less to do with the content or layout of the class than the fact that I missed a class on Milton because of it. So, as I prepare to buy books for next semester (last one for the MA) I'm still having second thoughts about my choices. The course I'm currently signed up for is a seminar on the theory and practice of intertextuality with a focus on 20th century works. Bonus points:

  1. really awesome professor, the kind that says things about your writing and scholarly endeavors that make you shuffle yer feet and say "aw, shucks". Said prof is doubly awesome for cackling ever so inappropriately at Sylvia Plath's poetry, and for being an administrative Chuck Norris. This would be my third course with this prof.
  2. A phD program is more likely to count this towards the next degree because of how the course is numbered. That's a pretty big bonus, needless to say.
  3. Let's just say it: the idea of intertextuality is fascinating and exciting.

And yet, there remains the course I'm looking at over my shoulder, one dealing with 17th century literature.

  1. Although its a survey, this course would solidify my grounding in literature. On the GRE subject test, questions from this time period were one of two types of questions I skipped (the others dealt with contemporary theory).
  2. I hate to say it, let alone write it down in an academic blog, but let's be honest--would I really tackle Herbert and Jonson on my own? Sure, I'd read a poem or such, but sometimes a swift kick in the ass--er, introduction to the material helps me get going.
  3. I think that I have a lot to learn from this professor, who(m?) I've only had for one other class. Sometimes, when this professor talks about a poem or passage of lit, I feel like a tuning fork has gone off in my head--you know, that "Byyoooo" sound when your brain is reaching capacity? (holy crap, if I think any deeper my head will explode, that sort of thing).

Back to work.


Dr. Virago said...

My advice: assuming all other things are more or less equal, choose the seminar over the readings course, because an all-grad-student class is going to have (theoretically) a higher level of engagement and discussion than a mixed undergrad/grad class. And actually, 17th century writers -- especially the poets that prof is likely to focus on -- *are* pretty interesting to read on your own.

Oh, and *whom* was correct. Accusative case for an object: 'whom I've had' = 'I've had *him*'. That said, I think "whom" is disappearing from the language.

Dedalus said...

Yeah, I'm going to come down on the same side as DrV, not that you're necessarily taking an opinion poll. Professor A is indeed Awesome (in fact, as we know, it is actually part of his/her title.) Gave me probably my all-time favorite one-word hand-written paper comment: "Ah!" Still thinking aw, shucks two years later.

But Professor B will indeed make with the mental-tuning-fork moments. You hate to pass that up. But it's true--class'll be full of undergrads, and even the upper level undergraduates are Completely Baffled by this person. This would get exasperating. B might as well be an alien to them. Me, I knew just enough to know I was in way over my head, and was continually terrified. I kept thinking even if I'd kept up with the reading, I wouldn't be able to keep up with this discussion. But at least no one else has anything to say, either.

Dr V -- "whom" might outlive us, but probably not by much. I tutored people younger than me and they were only dimly aware of its existence, if they were at all. "There's pretty much no such word in spoken English anymore," I'd tell them. I don't think I could use it correctly myself until, like, twenty-five. And of course, it hardly matters, in any normal context. Natural.

...but something that never occurred to me: why hasn't this happened to "he/him?" They're almost as close as "who/whom," phonetically, and the case-marking is equally unnecessary for understanding. Shouldn't they be blending together too?

Who'd have thought we'd get sidetracked by this? :) Big subject.

I got an "A" in Crazy Beeyotch said...

For the record:

I decided to go with the tuning fork AND administrative chuck norris (forgive me for digging my pseudonyms too much:) HEL has fallen by the wayside.

I'm definitely looking forward to the 17th c poets--I did not intend to insinuate that I wouldn't enjoy them outside of a class. I would be all up in their goodies (so to speak).

As for Whom...I can usually spot a misuse in my students' writing, but in my own, I'm at a loss. Then again, the other day I spelled typing as "tiping" and really meant it.

My boss thinks that "whom" becoming extinct is impossible, because---as he says--how else would we write business letters?