Tuesday, January 26, 2010

School and other things

I started school last Thursday (I would've started on Tuesday but last Tuesday was an all-faculty furlough day, so there were no classes). So far, I'm not quite sure what to expect.

My French class is huge since they combined French 202 and French 311 - for money and other reasons. I'm not sure what we'll be learning in terms of grammar due to this. It's also the last class I need for my French minor. They don't have any higher-level language classes for French at my school, which I find a little frustrating because I feel like I haven't learned everything there is to learn. But I guess I've learned all the tenses I need for spoken French, since the more advanced tenses in French are primarily literary or are used only in written French. My reading and writing are excellent, but my speaking is a little rusty since I have no one to practice it with. If I studied abroad in France for some length of time, I think I'd acquire speaking fluency simply from having to use the language everyday (kind of like the eponymous heroine of the movie Sabrina). Today, Dr. Geiger, our teacher, showed a map of Provence, and I was surprised how close Aix-en-Provence (where one of my school's 2 France study abroad programs is) is to Marseille, a fairly major city in southern France. Yet one of my other French teachers said it's cheaper to live in than Paris (where my school's other France study abroad program is).

The last couple days we've been talking about questionnaires that help reveal things about people. In particular, we discussed Bernard Pivot's questionnaire, which he made popular through his TV show Bouillon de culture. This questionnaire is the basis for the 10-question questionnaire James Lipton uses on Inside the Actors' Studio. There is another similar questionnaire created by writer Marcel Proust. Anyway, we are supposed to come up with our own questionnaire based on both of these.

My history class, on Interwar Europe, is pretty interesting. I finally got the last book for it today, as it had finally come in at the school bookstore. I got behind on the reading because I didn't have my planner with me last Thursday and didn't write down the homework, so I had to do the reading today. One of the books for this class devotes an entire chapter to Lloyd George, the British Prime Minister at the time of the Treaty of Versailles. He seems like an interesting person.

My last class is Creative Writing Workshop, the only major-related class I was able to get into this semester. We finally got the other half of the syllabus today (which the teacher forgot last time) and found out about our assignments for the semester. We're covering poetry first and so we'll be writing poetry first. The first one is to focus on a single image -- basically like an imagist style. The second one is to write a sonnet or sestina. A sestina is a poetic form consisting of six 6-line stanzas followed by a tercet, or three-line stanza, for a total of 39 lines. I might try that, as interesting as sonnets are. I can't remember the other assignments off the top of my head. There are many classical poetic forms that interest me, including terza rima, the form first used by Dante in his Divine Comedy. It consists of a three-line stanza with a chain rhyme scheme (A-B-A, B-C-B, C-D-C), with the final stanza ending in a single line or a couplet rhyming with the middle line of the final tercet. Maybe I will save one of these for my Walden writings. I'm considering writing some of the tales in verse, even maybe the tale of Hirion and Estelle, though that too would be going too close to Tolkien (who also probably wrote Beren and Lúthien's story in verse at some point, since their story is referred to as the "Lay of Leithian," and "lays" are usually in verse form...though the most complete version of their story, in The Silmarillion, is in prose). I know I am no Dante, nor do I expect to succeed at my first attempt messing with terza rima.

My web design classes start this week. I found out I need to actually buy, or at least download, Adobe Fireworks. It's a vector-based image program, as opposed to Photoshop, which is raster-based. It's pretty expensive.

Ok it's getting late. More later.