Monday, September 10, 2007

My grad school experience so far

A lot of my grade is based on "classroom participation," that kind of murky, ambiguous phrase meaning showing up to class and talking in class discussion as we dissect the bejesus out of a five-page essay. Two hours on a five-page essay, you ask? Yes. A lot.

Anyway, in one of my classes the professor seems to be annoyed at my frequent contributions. It's kind of irritating, the way he points his finger at me to get me to stop talking so someone else can. I remember last Tuesday being really pissed off about it. My SO mentioned I may have misunderstood his sentiment, and I thought maybe I was being hypersensitive because I was on my period. (Isn't it great how lame we girls can be? Maybe it's my fault.)

So on Thursday we were talking about Mallarme and poetry analysis which I didn't understand at all. I know nothing about poetry and I could make no sense of it, but he constantly compared it with music. And because I took piano for six years, I understood that so attempted to understand it from that point of view. He was talking about radical changes in poetry, like dissonance, and I compared it to Schoenberg's music, which is all very dissonant and weird. The professor, although quickly pointing out that my timeframe was wrong (yes, I know he's 20th-century!) seemed surprised I brought him up because apparently his experiments with the 12-tone technique mirrored what Mallarme was speaking of in poetry.

I didn't know this part. I only knew Schoenberg (pictured above) because I worked at UCLA's music library for three years in college and inadvertently listened to his music. But it sounded like I really knew what I was talking about! Then he proceeded to ignore me.

Anyway, in our discussion on Thursday, one poetry student named Molly, defended what the writer was saying by declaring that nonfiction and fiction writers don't come up with writing the same as poets. And then it became the "The Hate Show" (to borrow a line from "The Comeback.") Where a few guys were trying to jump on her, including one that had insulted a girl named Terri the week before.

End of class, Molly was crying. The reason, she said, was "... that I guess I'm not smart and can't talk like everyone else. I just talk like me and that's it. I don't care what they think. ... I think I don't belong here."

So I walked with her, along with other people who kept joining us until we had a little group of 10. I told her how I felt so stupid in class and that the professor was constantly shushing me. And we had such a little bonding moment!

It made me feel better. I hope it made her feel better, too!

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