Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Semester summation and wrap-up

>.> Woops. I forgot I had this...

It has been a crazy semester. I am finally DONE as far as the Spring 2008 college semester is concerned. At work, we are done holding classes for most of the students, and have begun end-of year testing for our program. My position comes out of a different fund than most of the school employee's pay, and that grant money runs out a bit early every year. We also need to get our testing done BEFORE all of the teachers do their final wrap things, which is why I will finish two weeks before the students do. However, this post is mostly about scholastic efforts in my own studies, instead of what I've been presenting to elementary schoolers. :)

Dance was interesting. Yes, it's belly dancing. However, the style we learned is (as the professor stressed several times) is sensual, not sexual. I had hoped it would help me some with balance and core strength, and it has. :) I've also learned that trying to do a physical class for credit is.. not the best route for me. I often had to sit down before class was over, and there were days I just sat and watched for the entire class. Still informative, but on the days that I could get up and join class again, I was making the clumsy mistakes everyone else had made in the previous class or two, and by that point the only one doing it. That may sound silly, but it wears on you after a while. I worked hard though, did extra credit, practiced when I could. I choreographed my final to the opening theme from Angel, by Darling Violetta. Here's a picture of my costume. I am happy to report that I got an A. :)
Dance Performance outfit

The course on Victorian England was interesting. It was also a very stressful course. It's a bit ironic that I had the most trouble and frustration with this class, seeing as its the one I fought and pleaded to get into. C'est la vie, no? We covered a lot of topics in Victorian Britain, with the focus usually centered on London, and how gender came into the topics. A woman's ideal role in the home and the bearing those ideals have had since, as well as the ways in which those ideas were impractical at the time. The Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace, thoughts on Imperialism by Kipling and Karl Pearson with his ideas on Social Darwinism. The Irish Potato Famine, poverty in light of Dickens and a series of photographs and articles written in the 1870s, particularly in contrast with upper class views and realities. Prostitution, the change in consumption and gender roles in late Victorian Era, the Oscar Wilde trial and scandal, the Maiden Tribute (scandalous piece written on child prostitution) and its effects, Jack the Ripper and the Whitechapel Murders. Gender roles in education, the re-emergence of women in the workforce and disparity of it, the failed attempts at open discourse on sexuality, and John Stuart Mill's theories from On Liberty, particularly the Harm Principle. The midterm damn near killed me despite many hours of preparation, and the final was pretty damn hard too. I wrote my research paper on Spiritualism in Victorian England. If you are curious, you can read it by clicking here. The project was frustrating because Spiritualism had not quite been my original focus, and the initial draft I turned in was mostly unusable as it was too broad. Then, I submitted the final draft a day late because I was home throwing up from food-something the day it was due. I asked if she would meet me halfway on the late penalty since I was sick to the point that I missed work as well as class. Fortunately she agreed to a 5% penalty instead of a 10%. I also gave an optional presentation on my paper to the class, though I had to throw slides together in a freeware program at the last minute since my PowerPoint presentation went screwy. Those who've heard me freaking out about this class, especially the paper, will understand why I was so shocked to find an addition to the comment sections from my professor: she suggested that I submit it for publication in the undergraduate journal once I tighten it up a bit, and invited me to a special one credit hour course she is putting together next fall to work on research topics for presentations at Perdue. o_O I am waiting to see when it will be and am considering going for it. Despite all of my "omg this is difficult and taking forever!" complaints, I did bust my ass, and I pulled an A. :) Apparently she was puzzled that I was fretting my grade on the final because of what I had going into it. >.>

Mesoamerican Civilizations was an awesome class. The professor was fantastic. He presented a great deal of information in a relevant fashion and engaged everybody. In fact, something several students voiced at oral evaluations was that they had not been looking forward to the class as they had expected to be bored to tears, and were quite surprised to find the opposite to be true. We looked at theories on arrival of humans in the Americas and early organization. We studied a number of societies: Olmec, Maya, Zapotec, Teotihuacan, Toltec, Mexica Aztec, Taino, and how European (read: primarily Spanish) contact went with each. No, the Inca are not on this list. They were in Peru, which is in South America, and more different from central than many realize. We compared the rise of agriculture and civilization with areas in the Old World and ideas on why there was a delay. I realized that I have a tendency to over-write and over-think some things when it took me 12 hours to write a review of a journal article. I didn't have a final exam in this class (woo!) but a major research paper comprised over half the grade. I did mine on Vampirism in Mesoamerica, particularly focusing on the Maya and Mexica Aztec. It seemed to me that with gods who required blood sacrifice to continue existing, a fair argument could be made for vampiric notions before the time of Contact. If you are interested in reading it, click here. I will warn you, it's long. I am going to swing by campus tomorrow to pick up my paper and see what his comments were, but I've looked up my course grade on the student system: A+!

Native American and European Encounters was a class that had a lot of promise, a good professor, and a frustrating roster. The textbook we used for the first half of the course didn't help, but most of the time almost no one read. This makes class discussion difficult. I know sometimes it happens with 100 level courses that fill a core university requirement, but c'mon, a little effort? The class was an overview of how various Native American groups interacted with each other, with Europeans upon their arrival, the Mexican government in the Southwest, and then the US Government. The class examined a number of people and their roles as mediators between the groups: Diego de Vargas, William Clark, missionaries John and Evan Jones in contrast to many other missionaries of the time, Buffalo Bill Cody with his Wild West shows, Cherokee schoolgirls, a Pueblo painter, and a former BIA official and Navajo linguist. I still found it to be an interesting class, and hope to take another one that goes into more detail. I also found myself overwriting on the paragraph/essay response exams for this class, and challenged myself to be more succinct with the final. I think I managed. ^_^ My professor was interested in my paper topic for the Mesoamerican course, and approved doing research with it for her class as well, as long as I looked at European impact and exchange as well. She has suggested I go on to grad school and try to fast track a PhD and teach college courses. I'm not so sure about it, but it is an option that I'm investigating. Oh, and I got an A+ in the course. ^_^

So. GPA for Spring 2008? 4.0! Now to see if I can keep it next fall. :)

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