My brain did a strange thing a few moments ago: amidst its usual ponderings of “What will I have for breakfast?” and “I should be wearing warmer socks right now,” it meandered to a contemplation of where I was and how I was feeling last year at this same time. I don’t have an exact date on my mind, but more of a season of quiet change that started with Intersession and continued through my spring semester. Memories of equal parts carefree frolicking and stressful indecision came rushing back as I settled on a breakfast of peanut butter toast and tea and realized exactly how much had changed.
A year ago today, I was having quite a lovely time being back in Baltimore early. I used the open days to hang out with people whose schedules and mine never matched up during the school year, who I only saw once or twice a week at a club meeting or in class. My spring schedule looked like it was going to be an interesting mixture of creative writing, history and marketing classes that would keep me on my toes. But I was still dealing with a lot of self-doubt: I didn’t mind my major, but I also didn’t love it. It just seemed like the most obvious choice for so many people with my kind of skillset (on paper, at least), and the department’s prestige added a degree of clout that seemed foolish to turn down until I’d given it a thorough try. After two semesters of doing just that — and of doing a great deal of exploration in other areas of interest — I can safely say I’ve finally arrived at what is potentially my favorite schedule yet.
I hardcore frontloaded my Mondays, but frankly, I’m pretty okay with it. I get to start off the morning with my first ever Official History of Art class here, called Performance Art in America and Europe: 1909 to Present. I can still remember seeing the title in the course catalogue and clicking “Add to Cart” before I even realized what my fickle hand was doing. I’m going to include the full description here, because the wording is fabulous (it includes one of my favorite words, “ephemeral”) and explains it far more concisely than my overexcited brain ever could. Ahem: “This course surveys the development of performance art in the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries. We will explore the evolution of performance as a medium; the ways performance artists have engaged questions of race, gender, and sexuality; shifting relationships between performance and work in other media; and theories of performance. We will also examine the special challenges that attend the study of ephemeral and time-based art.” I’m coming into this class with little to no background on the subject matter but a scary amount of enthusiasm that I’ll try to keep in check. Sounds about right.
After 50 minutes of Spanish and a hot second to grab some lunchtime nourishment, I’ll be spending the rest of the afternoon in this upper-level English class that I’m admittedly a tad bit intimidated by. In Forms of Moral Community: The Contemporary World Novel, we’ll be discussing literary and philosophical imaginations of moral community in the post-WWII period (1950-2001). We’re reading everything from Ian McEwan’s Atonement to Toni Morrison’s Beloved to essays by Simone de Beauvoir and factoring questions like “What does it mean to acknowledge another person’s humanity?” and “How fundamental are moral emotions?” into the mix. There are only about ten of us in the class, so I’m excited to have ample opportunity to sort through these ideas in discussion and to read such a diverse array of classic contemporary literature for homework.
Tuesdays and Thursday are stiff competition to the glory of Mondays and Wednesdays, as well as the open-endedness of Fridays. Introduction to Literary Study is a pre-requisite for the English major, a beginner level class on the basics of critical study of literature. Maybe feeling hyped about that sort of description has me at my peak nerdiness, but frankly, I’ve missed writing analytically about literature for so long. Writing Seminars was an often times fun and interesting foray into the world of fiction and poetry writing, but my AP English Lit loving self is very, very happy to be back in the land of structured essays and critical approaches to literary study. We’re reading Jane Eyre — one of my favorite novels ever — and various other pillars of English literature, and you could say I’m sufficiently geeked about it.
At the well-timed denouement of my alpha schedule is Introduction to Museums: Issues and Ideas, another necessary pre-req, but this time for the Museums & Society minor I plan to pursue after the surreal classroom experience I had during GhostFood last semester. The course focuses on the plethora of external factors affecting the way museums exist today, taking into account not only the ownership of the institution’s contents itself, but also the political and socioeconomic factors surrounding it. Yes, it’s another “beginner level” introductory course, which made me feel like I was late to the game when I first registered for it and ILS. But I’m planning to make this semester my tabula rasa, the term when I’m finally doing what feels as close to what I genuinely love learning as a swatch of classes can get. I’m willing to start from square one and work my way up from there. A year ago today, I wasn’t feeling nearly this sure of myself, of what I wanted out of my education here or of what my actual interests were, despite my attempts to convince myself and others of something different. The anxiety I felt back then has definitely left its mark — hence the weird breakfast time flashback I described at the start of this blog — but as of now, I feel that I’m doing what I’m meant to be doing for the first time in quite a while. This feels right.