Thursday, June 5, 2008

Day One

So, day one of Wheaton in England comes to a close, and I am realizing that I forgot how exhausting sitting in class was. 8:30 to 2:30 is kind of a long time, especially when you are cold or when the chair is just enough off so you fee like you are either slouching or laying on the desk. I am very excited about the material, however. The courses are Shakespeare, Travel Writing, and Romanticism. I've never taken classes with any of these professors before. Shakespeare is with Dr. Ryken, who I have heard so many stories about, and would like to please stop hearing stories about because I want to form my own impression of him. So far, I like him and find his personality perfectly agreeable, to reference the romantic period. Travel Writing I think will be my favorite. This professor is not going with us on the trip though. And she said it would be "a great challenge" for those who need to have someone over their shoulder making sure they're getting started on things. She also commented a little on the writer's life, and how we need to develop the habit of writing when we're not in class, which is something I definitely struggle with. I think this class will be good for that. For today we read an essay on exploration, travel, and tourism, and I noticed some of the themes we discussed in other students doing the program after class. Another girl and I exchanged glances and smiled, both thinking, "you're an anti-tourist!" as she described what she imagined doing when we got to England. We're talking about our expectations and motivations for travel. For me, it's different because I've already been to and lived in the country. I don't think I have any expectations because I know what it's like. I know there will be the initial readjustment. She said that often our expectations will come out in our essays, and I'm wondering how that will affect me. Will I have fewer funny stories because I knew that it was vinegar and not water and didn't drink it? In one of the readings for the course, someone said that the really horrible trips often make for the best writing. We'll see.
Romanticism will be interesting. I'm excited to do the poetry part, not so much the drama. I don't want to act out a scene from a play. We're traveling to Tintern Abbey. Tintern Abbey. "Tintern Abbey" was one of the first poems I ever read. It was Dr. Fraser's Honors British Lit. class at West Georgia. I remember sitting in a circle and him teaching us that it was a descriptive meditative lyric and that meant it started from the outside and then... My thoughts about poetry now are more macro than micro, wondering about the purpose of poetry. Talking with my roommate last night and asking her the difference between poetry and prose, she says poetry is like a punch in the stomach and prose is like a tap on the shoulder (aside from the differences in lineation, etc.). We use poetry when we can't use anything normal. We use it to make a point, to say what we're really trying to say in the language that speaks to the part of us beyond the level where simple understanding is. When we see injustice, simply explaining it to someone doesn't get rid of that feeling in us. In learning the history of the Romantic period today and having done some of the reading for class tomorrow, it becomes a little bit more clear why things like Wordsworth's "Tintern Abbey" and Barbauld's "Eighteen Hundred and Eleven" have the feeling that they have. The sort of sadness.
And the other thing I wonder is if people read their poetry at that time. Dr. Colon said that people weren't reading Wordsworth and Coleridge, they were going to Baillie's plays. So, then, what is the purpose of poetry? If no one reads it at the time, it doesn't matter how hard of a punch it packs on whatever social issue. It's not for the reader, it's for the author? Or for an imagined reader? Why do we write it if it doesn't do anything? I guess paintings don't really do anything either. I don't want to talk about this. I know why we write. It's for a lot of reasons. It's for getting it out of our heads and onto the page, for figuring out what exactly the feeling is, because we can write, we can create and make art, and there is joy in that. There's a feeling in creating something that you love and no one else has ever made. We can write because of our frustration in injustice-- that is a sort of hopeful writing, that the situation can change, or a complete despair at the suffering of others and the author's or the world's failings to notice or do something about it. These are all just thoughts on the question and I'm sure I will keep understanding more and more...
So, Wheaton in England, eh? Who knew there would be this much thinking the first day of class. And I haven't even started my homework yet ; )
We're here in Wheaton until the 20th, then we're in London for 9 days, and then some other places that I will post later, the library is cold. This will be my primary means of communication with everyone. I don't know how often I'll have internet access while I'm there.
Tune in next time to hear Larry sing about... (Mom, I thought you would like that)

oh, yes, and on a lighter note, the url comes from finals week and my friend Erica, who was studying for a test, and used me in all of her memory devices, which I wrote down to put into some kind of poem, some time. sarah and erica in bright shoes.


  1. Thanks for the Veggie Tale reference!
    Love you, kid! (Gilmore Girl reference!)

  2. Hey Sarah! When you are in England, give me a call. Lol Joff 07967 030695