I know I start every post this way, but I am actually actually so so bad at this. And I shouldn’t be! I always say that I am busy, and indeed I have been since FEBRUARY (c’mon Crompton!), but this has been inexcusable. Very very bad, I know.
So. Strap yourself in. No, don’t, cause I’m going to break up the web-log of what I have done for the past FOUR MONTHS into bite-sized portions and upload them over the next few days. This semester has been much much more travel-y than the first so I have lots to tell.
(Reading over those past two paragraphs, I’m starting to sound a bit like an apologetic Jacob Two-Two, eh what?)
So, quite, my academic duties of second semester were rather different than the classes I took in first. This term I had two History seminars, one first year and one second, and a Literature seminar.
My first year seminar was on the History of Witchcraft in England, mainly in the Early Modern period, and mainly gleaned from popular literature and pamphlets of the time. There were some good kids in that class (and I think I’m allowed to call them that, what with them being so much younger than me? no, get off your high horse) but occasionally it was a bit like pulling teeth to get the discussion going. Our instructor was a lovely and kind woman who always brought us sweets however, so it certainly wasn’t as bad as it could have been.
My Lit seminar was following the Arthurian legend through it’s various incarnations, starting with the earliest Welsh poems about the mythical king, and ending with some young-adult fiction of the twentieth century. I was terrified of the class going into it because I had not taken a proper Lit class since highschool, and the prof was the most unbelievably twee and English and academic woman one could ever hope to find in the English University system. She directed that seminar like it was no one’s business, and was always there to help so I actually ended up doing quite fine. I feel like that class was somewhat wasted on me though, because not only is she one of the foremost academics of Arthurian Literature IN THE WORLD, but she also arranged various seminars taught by the other heavy-hitters of the discipline. I went into the class hating Arthur and came out loving him though, so I guess that means it was a success.
My final class of the semester is honestly one of the best courses I have taken in my entire life. This one was an Environmental History of the American West taught by Dr. Peter Coates. Our seminar discussions featured each week on such illustrious topics as the North American Bison, the Wolf, the “Green Indian”, Las Vegas, and the Atomic West. In all honesty I signed up for this class cause I was desperate to be in any second-year seminar they had space for me in, but boy am I ever glad I did. The people in the seminar were amazing and some have become quite good friends of mine, we got tea and biscuits at each seminar, the discussions were vibrant and sometimes even silly (during our seminar on the Wolf we spent a good twenty minutes deciding what our “spirit animals” would be), and Dr. Coates himself is one of the most vibrant and engaging professors I have ever had the pleasure of being taught by. This class was truly one of the highlights of my year here in England.
I just finished my exams yesterday, so it hasn’t really quite hit that I am actually done studying, which is, on paper, the reason I have been in this country for a year. I suppose unconsciously I am aware because I have spent today reading, lazing about, and working on this without feeling guilty for not revising. It is quite odd though that my remaining duties in this country focus solely upon enjoying myself and soaking in all I can of England and Bristol. I am vastly looking forward to it, and although I resented the exam period like all get out of town, it is really rather bittersweet that it has come to an end. I learned a lot of history that I would never have been exposed to at home which really challenged me academically, and opened my eyes to areas I had no idea I was interested in before. I may never return to religious nor American history again, but I do not lament or regret having been taught it at this wonderful university.
Not memorising dates and names anymore,
Your friend Lina