Friday, February 11, 2011

Joy in School

We've missed some of our classes at APSU Tina and I are taking because of snow and ice.  She's taking them for credit in order to teach dual enrollment English class where students take their high school senior English and their college freshman composition class their senior year of high school.  Cooperating universities (state ones but not private) give credit for that class.  She has to have 18 graduate English hours to teach the class.  I'm auditing because I've wanted to do it and it's free at state universities for people 60+. 

I told you that one of the classes has nine novels we are required to read.  There are three each by Evelyn Scott, Caroline Gordon, and Robert Penn Warren.  I'm enjoying the class especially since the professor reminds me of a straight Southern Tim Gunn.  He has such a wide range of knowledge and makes the class interesting. How could he not?

So far we've read the novels by Evelyn Scott.  I've described The Narrow House as a damp, gray blanket of quiet desperation.  It's about a family during the turn of the century or maybe in the 1910's.  The parents, their son and his wife and two children, and adult daughter all live in the same house.  It's all really depressing with unlikeable characters.  After reading Escapade, autobiographical fiction, it's easy to understand why.  She wrote about the early years of her escapade in Brazil when she ran away with a married Tulane professor twice her age.  She was 20 and went through pregnancy and childbirth in horrible conditions.  Then there's The Wave, a novel about the Civil War composed of vignettes, and quite interesting.  She's a modernist and a contemporary of William Faulkner, D. H. Lawrence, William Carlos Williams, Ernest Hemingway, and others.  Her life in Greenwich Village years later continued her rebellion and activism.  In this class I read the novels and join in the discussion but don't do the graded work like write papers, take the exam, and present oral reports.

The other class is titled Seminar on Creative Nonfiction Writing.  In this class we are assigned three books of essays.  Some of you would enjoy Ander Monson's Neck Deep and Other Predicaments.  The form and style of these essays are different from other essays I've read.  I really like his writing.  Some are like free verse poetry, some conversational, and some in other new ways.  His website Other Electricities is HERE. The other two books of essays are On Looking by Lia Purpura and In Short: A Collection of Brief Creative Nonfiction by many authors.  I'll let you know more about those later on. 

Our first essay was due Tuesday, and since we didn't have class because of the weather, I emailed it to her late Monday night.  The assignment was inspired by and modeled after one of Monson's essays.  We had a choice from three.  In this class I do the reading, discussion, and writing but don't get a grade.  I think she told me she would make comments on my papers but am not sure.  I'll find out.  We also workshop the first two papers in class but not the final one.  As much as I don't like using nouns and verbs, "workshop" has made its way into my vocabulary.

I'd been working on my paper about belief and doubt last week and called Tina Sunday to say that I thought I'd be counted off because my sources are not literary.  After I stressed out about it a bit, Tina firmly stated, "You are not getting a grade on it."  Old habits die hard!  Even if I'm not getting a grade, I want to do well.  What can I say?

3 comments:

froggy said...

Oh, I know that feeling. We did a writing class for teaching classes. And even though I had followed every rule, outline, framework and all - I still wanted to entertain the teacher and hit my creative marks. (I did :-)

mrs. miss alaineus said...

i'm like that when i do writing for school grants/ etc. i want to do a good job for the sake of doing it right regardless of whether i actually get a grade or not.

hope your paper is well received!
xxalainaxx

Berry Blog said...

I admire your energy and commitment to learning.working with Vinny this week caught up with me and the high turned into a crash over the way I am using my time these days on silly computer games. I could be offering more and getting more out of my life.You are an inspiration but perhaps more motivated than I want to be. I get tired so easily now that one major event a day is about all I can handle. Then I nurse my aches and pains and stick to reading, movies, and emails to still inquisitive people. I so agree that when I do take classes I am still an old die hard teacher pleaser and attention getter. I didn't stick with the Senior College. Kudos to my Joy.