The First Week Of Classes Is Over! | Social Science, Heroines, & Word Nerds

Last semester, I posted a recap of my first week of classes, and from then on wrote about my courses approximately once a month. I’d like to continue that tradition this semester – and into the foreseeable future – because it’s, well, fun!

If you’d like to know more about my spring 2016 classes, you can find more info here! I included the official course descriptions, as well as my (excitement-filled) thoughts about each of them.

The past week of classes has been quite enjoyable, although I’m a bit stunned that I’ve been here nine days already. I returned to Iowa not this past Sunday but the one before, and yet it feels as though it happened ages ago – HOW did a week go by so fast?! I’m always amazed by how quickly the days and weeks and months fly by when you’re in college.

ANYWAY. Here are my thoughts about last week!

The Art and Craft of Travel Writing

I’m RIDICULOUSLY happy because we’ll be writing personal essays for this class! I LOVE ESSAYS. I have absolutely no idea which places I want to write about yet, but I have plenty of time to figure that out.

Each week, this class focuses on a different country – at the end of each session, we receive a packet containing travel writing about a particular country, all from the perspective of someone who is foreign to that country. Some of the countries include China, India, Turkey, and the United States. More than anything, though, I’m excited for the units on travel photography and Ireland!

I like my professor so far, too. I mean, we’ve only had one class session so far, but he seems down-to-earth – very much of the “to be a writer, all you need to do is write” mentality. Very unpretentious. He actually said that we probably won’t do our best writing in this class, and that’s OK with him, because people under pressure are capable of writing a LOT, but not necessarily of writing WELL. This makes a lot of sense to me, because I second-guessed myself all the time when I worked on my assignments for Creative Writing last year. I’d write something that I liked, and then I’d start worrying that my classmates and teacher wouldn’t like it…

Introduction to the Short Story:
From Henry James to Flash Fiction

For some reason, we have a different instructor than the one who was originally signed up to teach this course, and she changed the syllabus at the last minute. On one hand, this is annoying because I’d already ordered most of the required books, only to realize I didn’t need them after all… but on the other hand, the updated reading list now includes ONLY short stories and a few novellas, and no poetry at all. GOOD. I HATE STUDYING POETRY. I don’t mind reading it – although I don’t do so very often – but I can’t stand to endlessly dissect it in a classroom setting. Ugh. Not my cup of tea.

My professor informed us that one of our assignments is to lead a discussion about one of the assigned short stories… and I can’t wait! I love interactive classes like that, where we students have the opportunity to teach each other and learn from each other for a little while.

Aaaand one of the short stories we’ll read is “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman – an early feminist work, and one of my favorites! So I signed up to lead that particular discussion, naturally. (Although I was sorely tempted to sign up for one of the Edgar Allan Poe stories instead, because POE.)

Media Uses and Effects

As I’ve mentioned before, I postponed taking this class in favor of taking Media History & Culture instead, because I thought this one would be mind-numbingly dull! Well, SURPRISE. It isn’t! We’re studying social science, so it’s kind of like… I don’t know, maybe psychology with a little bit of math thrown in?

Basically, this course focuses on how media affects people. It’s a humanities course, more or less, but with SCIENCE-Y THINGS like hypotheses and experiments and data, all to argue one point of view or another. (For example, you can’t just say, “Violence in the media doesn’t harm people… I know this because it didn’t harm ME!” You need to conduct surveys and experiments in order to gather data that supports your hypothesis, because your experiences with media are, well, specific to you and may not be true for the general population.)

Anywayyyyy. It actually reminds me a little of my horrible Intro to Gender, Women’s, & Sexuality Studies course, in terms of the subjects we’re covering: Violence in the media, the oversexualization of girls and women, et cetera. THIS IS EXACTLY MY KIND OF THING. I LOVE IT. I’M SO EXCITED FOR THIS COURSE.

Language Rights

I love this class. What can I say? I’M A WORD NERD. I love learning other languages,* but I love learning about other languages even more. I love finding out where words come from, or why a particular word is spelled the way it is, or what caused various etymological squabbles.

Well, that’s exactly what this course is about! We’re still in introductory mode at the moment, but we’ve already learned some pretty fascinating stuff: For example, multiple human rights declarations classify the freedom to use one’s mother tongue (and be taught how to read and write in it) as a human right. I didn’t know that before!

We also discussed some examples of majority groups banning minority groups from using their language. I already knew that the US government forced Native American children to attend boarding schools where they were punished if they did not speak English – which is a MAJOR reason for the decline in speakers of those languages – but I didn’t know that speaking German was discouraged in Iowa during WWI!

*My prof asked us to fill out a survey that asked about our first language, any additional languages we’d learned, and which ones we’d like to learn. I wrote down, “Greek, Latin, French, Arabic, ASL, Chinese, and possibly Japanese,” with the disclaimer that I probably won’t end up learning any of them because I am too ambitious for my own good and there just isn’t enough time to learn all the things I want to learn.

Wonder Woman Unleashed: A Hero for Our Times

EEEEE. SO MUCH EXCITEMENT. I love this professor’s enthusiasm! We’re discussing Antigone next week, and I borrowed a bunch of Wonder Woman comics from the public library because… shh, don’t tell anyone, but I’ve never read/watched anything about her until now!

Also, I already have a problem: I have too many essay ideas! We only have to write two, but I have approximately 48290 ideas. Do I write about Peggy Carter? Do I write about Princess Leia? Do I write about the all-female Kurdish army units who fight ISIS?

Do I write about lesbian superheroines?! One of the things we discussed recently – as well as in my Superheroes Unleashed course last semester – was how many heroines swear off men in order to focus on saving the day. I’d like to write something about the heroines who don’t have to swear off men in the first place, and whether the same ideas about avoiding relationships in order to focus on superheroing (for lack of a better word) still apply.

Last but not least, I am FREAKING OUT because some footage from the upcoming Wonder Woman movie was released last week, and my prof was just… beyond excited.

Also, I watched that video way too many times because I am really really gay and like 63.5% of my crushes on fictional characters are women from comic books. Sometimes I even crush on people who are not Peggy Carter.


Are you taking any classes at the moment? If so, are you enjoying them so far?! Let me know!


About nevillegirl

Elizabeth. University of Iowa class of 2019. Triple majoring in English & Creative Writing, Journalism, and Gender, Women's, & Sexuality Studies. Twenty-one-year-old daydreamer, introvert, voracious reader, aspiring writer, and lesbian. Passionate about feminism, mental health, comic books, and cats.
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2 Responses to The First Week Of Classes Is Over! | Social Science, Heroines, & Word Nerds

  1. matttblack42 says:

    Note to self: Go to Engie’s college, and take her Travel Writing class.

    Also, I really need to watch Agent Carter, if only because this Peggy person sounds wonderful. Once I finally finish Daredevil, I’ll get onto that. (That show’s taking me a while, but I just got to the part where Foggy unmasked the masked man, so the next few episodes should go by pretty quickly.)

    • nevillegirl says:

      Yessssss. I wish you could! 😀

      And yessss again! Speaking of masks, Madame Masque will be in Agent Carter S2 and I am excited! Peggy IS wonderful. Her fighting style is best described as “hitting men over the head repeatedly until they pass out.” ❤

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