Higher education: narrowing down the options

Okay, so I think I'm getting narrowed down on the classes that I want to take. I've decided to try and limit my classes to Mondays and Wednesdays because there's that book I keep yammering about and I may actually need to dedicate some solid time to it. Thus, I think I've narrowed it down to three. First, we have a class called "The Sincerest Form," taught by Nicholas Delbanco. It's an interesting approach to writing short fiction which ivolves studying then mimicking the styles of authors such as Hemingway, Woolf and Joyce. From what I've heard - none of it first-hand, I assure you - Delbanco's operating from the belief that there is no original writing style and that we can learn by imitating others. It's so contrary to every other writing theory I've encountered, where finding one's own unique voice is stressed, that I think it might be good for me to give it a shot. I think the fact that the idea makes me uncomfortable may indicate a potential for something really annoying, like growth and broadened horizons. I've emailed the prof to see if I can get in, but haven't heard back yet.

I'm supposed to meet with another teacher, Tricia McElvoy, to discuss the possibility of auditing her class on Contemporary Scottish Fiction. She seems concerned that I won't be interested in all the class, as it is a freshman college writing course, but that I might enjoy the discussion portions. So I'm hoping to work something out there. I've got the obvious cultural interest in it and just hope it's not all reading Irvine Welsh, otherwise I'll have to bail. I get a headache just thinking about reading his books. Last, I'm hoping to get into a course called Anthropology of the Body & Senses. What's it about? Honesty, I'm not 100% certain yet, but I found something intriguing enough in the following course description to email the instructor:

This course is about the human body and the senses from the comparative and historical perspective of anthropology. People in different cultures have strikingly different ways of using their bodies to "make sense" of their worlds. Our purpose in this course will be explore such questions as these. How do people communicate with each other through the gestures and movements of their bodies, including their faces. Is there a natural order of the senses? What would be the nature of a world organized around smell, touch, or sound, rather than sight, as a dominant mode of knowing, or a world perceived through the feet? How do people acquire their bodily educations, for example, their notions of gender, age, beauty, purity, or strength? Is there a politics of the body and the senses? For example, why should "taste" be a mark of social class? Are social relations species-specific, or might our bodies and senses (for example, as mammals and vertebrates) provide us with means of communicating and relating more broadly? Could we ever get a sense of what it is like to be a cat or a bird or a tree? We will begin with an over view of how anthropologists study the body and the senses from a comparative perspective, focusing especially on the sensory construction of social worlds. Then we will focus on case studies of our key questions, concluding with a consideration of how attention to the varieties of bodily and sensory experience might contribute to our understanding of human behavior overall.

Yesterday, after a tour of the graduate and undergraduate libraries - accompanied by a rather dizzying intro to the university's online resources - we hung out with some of the Fellows at a rather crowded, stereotypical college bar, called Ashley's. One of the Fellows, John Bacon, is actually a native of Ann Arbor and is proving a valuable source of tips and info.

There, I had a really fascinating discussion with one of the international fellows, Min-Ah Kim, about the role of women in politics in her native South Korea as compared to here in the US. (That's the focus of her studies here at UM.) Interesting to know there's not actually too much difference between women's struggles in a completely different culture. Deputy editor of The Kyunghyang Daily News in Seoul, Min-Ah's a terrific person, warm and fascinating and filled with the kind of earnest questions about American culture that make you think about our country differently.

Min-Ah's just one of several international fellows here, which include a female reporter from CNN-Turk in Istanbul; a freelance writer from Rwanda; the executive editor of La Razon, from Buenos Aires, Argentina; and an editor from BBC World Service News. In case you were wondering how international I'm being, the answer is: very.

I'm not sure what everyone else is up to for the upcoming weekend. I know the couple from Sydney, Kim and Gerard, have rented a car and are bravely going up North to explore. Chris and I are going to continue settling in, I suppose. He will be using his student tickets to attend the football game tomorrow. (Friends reading this may wish to consider the game schedule when planning trips to visit - I can pretty much guarantee that his spare ticket will go unused.)There's a big books sale, and a ton of other little goings-on, including a student comedy improv troupe we may check out tomorrow night. I'm also excited (as only certain people can be) about the Fiber Fleece Festival in Chelsea on Sunday. The rest, as they say, is up in the air.