Oh Lord this semester is going to be a long one. I’m not going to whine in this post, don’t worry, but I do wonder what it means that I’m already counting how many classes I have left to teach this semester. I usually begin counting, oh, around two-thirds of the way through, when the end is in sight. But this time I began counting from the very beginning. That’s not good.

But I’m enjoying sitting in on my Intro to the Arts class — the one I’m observing now to teach later. The first day the professor made us draw! Now this frightened me a bit, as I have no skills whatsoever in drawing. But even though I’m not a student and am only observing, the professor handed me a sheet of paper, and I thought I couldn’t exactly refuse to do it, and I wouldn’t want to refuse to do it, anyway, as that would look silly. The assignment was to draw our lives in three panels. It’s an interesting assignment for the first day, and I’ll probably make my students do it when I teach the class. So I drew a sorry-looking book, a heavy, awkward-looking bicycle wheel (couldn’t manage an entire bike), and a third-grade-level picture of the woods to sum up my life. We were supposed to exchange pictures with other students and then the professor asked for people to share theirs for the class to analyze and interpret, and, of course, mine got chosen, so the whole class could see my sorry art work. So — I’m learning a lot in this class, including what it’s like to be a student feeling a bit out of her depth.

As for reading, these days I’m in the middle of Virginia Woolf’s novel Night and Day and am enjoying it thoroughly; it’s her second novel, and one of her more conventional ones. It’s got four main characters, two young men and two young women, and it explores their complicated relationships with each other. I’m enjoying her close attention to emotions and moods and psychological states, as well as her depiction of gender dynamics. One of the characters is involved in the women’s suffrage movement, so it’s an obvious theme, but Woolf also shows how the power dynamics play out in conversation among men and women in a way I find fascinating. I’ll say more about the book later.

And two new books have come into my possession lately, both of which I’m excited about. A friend gave me a copy of George Saunders’s book of essays The Braindead Megaphone; I’ve enjoyed Saunders’s short stories and am curious to see what he’ll do with the essay form. And then Emily sent me a copy of G.K. Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday, which I won in her recent blog contest. I’m looking forward to reading both of these.


Filed under Books, Life

13 responses to “Notes

  1. Eva

    Awww-I’m sorry this semester won’t be your favourite. 😦 At my college, we had three ten-week terms instead of semesters, and the winter one was always the worst.

    I’d be terrified if I had to draw as well-I can’t do it to save my life! I’d probably secretly resent the professor a little for the rest of the term, unless s/he was also a really bad drawer, lol.


  2. booksplease

    I would have hated to do that drawing, I’m useless at drawing. But on reflection it is an interesting exercise, using pictures not words. I think I’ll give it a go – in private of course.


  3. Lent term is always deadly. The great consolation is that spring happens during it, hopefully! Ouch! I wouldn’t want to have to draw anything as I am completely and utterly hopeless. I’m an anti-artist in that respect. Still it sounds like you were really clever about what you drew, Dorothy, and I expect that was the real point.


  4. I hate to admit it that I would be one of those students that would also inwardly be saying–no please don’t make me do this, but I guess it was good for you to experience what a student would feel like. Hopefully the semester will get better for you! Spring surely must just be around the corner (I say as we just got six inches of snow yesterday…). πŸ™‚


  5. verbivore

    I didn’t even know Saunders had essays so am very curious to see what you make of them!

    I can’t draw at all either so I know what that must have felt like.


  6. The only compensation about this term is that Easter is so early. I don’t mind a long summer term, but a long spring term stretching into eternity through the dark dank days towards a late April Easter is no fun at all.


  7. I probably would have gotten anxious with that assignment too – I can’t draw but I so wish I could! I’m going to keep that Woolf novel on my radar – I’ve only read one Woolf book but have been a bit hesitant to read any others.


  8. zhiv

    No fear–if you can ride a century and read Proust and Boswell in one year, you can draw three little panels!

    I’m curious to see your comments on Night and Day. I haven’t read it in a really long time, and in some ways it seemed like you could pass over it pretty quickly just because it’s, as you say, fairly conventional, and not dense and “important” like the breakthrough books. But I remember really enjoying it. Katherine Hilbery, right? You mention suffrage and power dynamics, but if I recall–since I was a Leslie Stephen guy back in the day–there’s a whole thing with a father who was an Eminent Victorian, Casaubon/Dorothea literary executor stuff too, right? Which is worth considering as a prelude to the creation of Mr. Ramsay. If I actually remembered/really knew anything about this stuff I probably wouldn’t mention it, but like I said I’m looking forward to your post to consider putting it on my stack.


  9. Eva — you know, the professor looked like she was doing her own drawing up front, but she never showed us her work — she probably should have, just to be fair!

    Booksplease — yes, it’s an interesting exercise, and I wouldn’t mind doing it so much if I could do it alone — to share your work with the class is a little frightening!

    Litlove — thanks; nobody seems to have lost serious amounts of respect for me, so I can be grateful for that! Your term anti-artist describes me perfectly.

    Danielle — yes, I think it’s very good to experience what the students experience — it’s easy to forget what it’s like being on the other side of things.

    Verbivore — I imagine Saunders’s essays are pretty wacky — if they are at all like his fiction they will be at any rate.

    Ann — yes, February and March are so hard, although it’s also a struggle to get to April and have so much work to do just when the weather gets nice and I want to be outside!

    Iliana — I’m liking the Woolf novel a lot, although I’ve loved her other novels too — so I might not be the best judge for you. I’ll certainly let you know.

    Zhiv — if only riding centuries and reading Proust and Boswell made everything easy! Yes, Katherine Hilbery is one of the central characters; she’s got a famous poet grandfather, and she and her mother are spending their time working on a biography of him — and not getting very far. Katherine is dealing with the ghost of this grandfather, but also with her mother’s obsession with the past, and she has some trouble figuring out her own place in all this. So yeah, I can see a similar with the Mr. Ramsay story — young women struggling with larger-than-life dominating males.


  10. I love drawing! My drawing wouldn’t have been any better than yours but I don’t care much. But probably most of the others in class felt the way you did and no one’s drawing rivaled Picasso. Did you get crayons to add color? I think maybe crayons would have lightened the stressful feeling. Crayons help you feel like a kid and not feel so bad if your picture looks like an eight-year-old made it πŸ™‚


  11. You’re right, Stefanie, I don’t think we had any artistic geniuses in the room! We had markers and pencils — I tried to find one with an erase, but I couldn’t. Crayons would have been perfect — I could have made it look like I was going for the child-like look on purpose πŸ™‚


  12. hepzibah

    i liked the art activity that you descibed and I think I may use it in the classroom someday πŸ™‚


  13. Pingback: Intro to the Arts « Of Books and Bicycles

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