An Update On My Classes | Obama’s Speeches, Retelling “The Odyssey,” & Cross-Cultural Reporting

Hi, everyone! Since my freshman year, I’ve posted monthly updates about what I’ve been up to so far that semester. I didn’t publish one in February since I was doing #LoveMe, so this post is long overdue… and as such will probably be a little longer than usual because I want to recap some things that happened last month!


Black Fiction Now

We began the semester by discussing the works of Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois, and James Weldon Johnson. We then read The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead and Charles Chesnutt’s short stories as part of a unit on slavery and Reconstruction. After that, a unit on MLK via Katori Hall’s play The Mountaintop (which I REALLY enjoyed).

Our upcoming unit consists of a number of Barack Obama’s speeches, as well as responses to them by writers such as Ta-Nehisi Coates. I’ve already done all the reading for the first week back after spring break because I’m so BORED! There’s really nothing else to do here at home, so I’ve gotten a head start on all my homework and I’m excited to jump into a discussion about how Obama’s speeches and memoirs draw upon the narratives set forth by Washington, Douglass, and other black writers of note.

Literary Retelling and Impersonation

I think this course should be a required part of the English major! I think it’s super important to examine other writers’ styles and learn how to imitate them. Plus, it’s just plain fun! So far, I’ve impersonated Anne Sexton and James Joyce, and retold stories by Homer and Margaret Atwood. This class is intense- choosing to retell The Odyssey certainly made things a little, um, difficult – and the reading schedule can be a bit demanding at times, but ultimately I love being challenged in this way. Impersonations, in particular, aren’t something I would have otherwise written, so I appreciate being pushed to try something new!

Foundations of the First Amendment

This class is so interesting but the workload is KICKING MY BUTT! Each week, we have to read several excerpts from different Supreme Court cases on free speech and they’re just SO DENSE. Still, the judicial branch of government has always fascinated me more than the executive or legislative branches, so it’s kind of cool to trace how the court’s views on free speech rights have shifted over time. Sometimes they contradict themselves. Sometimes dissenting opinions in one case become majority opinions many years later.

Writing Across Cultures

Although none of my courses are what I would consider easy, this one has me working harder than any other this semester – mostly because of the graded reading responses that are due each and every time we have class! I absolutely LOVE being trained to do multicultural reporting in a sensitive way and wish this class was a requirement for a journalism degree!

One of my first assignments was to create “a sense of place” through description utilizing the five senses, so I wrote about “protest culture” and being at the Women’s March on Washington! I also worked hard on a group presentation about how to cover Asian-American communities respectfully and without stereotypes. We got ten out of ten points on it, yay! My latest project was a  long(ish) feature story based on a cross-cultural experience of our own and I wrote about my Brazilian roommate from last summer. You can read the final version of it, titled “Carnaval in the Midwest,” here.

I recently began work on my next assignment: A profile of someone from a different culture than mine! I’m interviewing a friend in my writing group who is from a secular Jewish family.

Principles of Reasoning: Arguments and Debate

I actually considered dropping this class because I was so overwhelmed and confused! Eventually I went to office hours and asked my professor to explain some concepts, and that seems to have really helped. I’m still struggling a bit, though: By the time I fully understand something, we’ve moved several units ahead in the chapter! If anyone reading this has taken a logic course, especially at the college level, I would SO appreciate recommendations of tutorial videos/websites/et cetera that you found helpful!


How has your life been? Tell me one new thing you learned in school lately! I feel like I haven’t talked to you guys about school in practically FOREVER, so I’d be interested to hear how and what you’ve been doing.


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.
This entry was posted in Nevillegirl's Adventures!, Non-Neville Posts, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to An Update On My Classes | Obama’s Speeches, Retelling “The Odyssey,” & Cross-Cultural Reporting

  1. Dude you always take the most interesting classes! 😀

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