Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Semester Reflection

Virginia WoolfThe Thanksgiving holiday is a good time to begin reflecting over the current school semester. It’s the point where you’ve become progressively sick of school, but still schizophrenically looking forward to a fresh start in the coming semester. It’s also a good time to catch up on upcoming assignments, journaling, housecleaning, and oh yeah… blogging.

Now that I’m looking forward to my trip to London next May, I’ve been thinking a lot about the British Literature classes I’ve taken and the Brit Lit that I’ve read, including the Postcolonial stuff. I wasn’t expecting to like Shakespeare, or Milton, or Emily Bronte, but I’m really enjoying the wonderful connections and segues into early American Literature (for example the John Locke stuff), the similarities in subject matter and issues of the Victorian era on both sides of the pond, particularly in terms of the value of women and Africans in society. I love imagining that Bronte might of had a different ending in mind in Wuthering Heights where Catherine didn’t have to redeem herself by acquiescing to the idea of an “angel in the house”. And I’m totally into that scattered, fragmented narrative that Virginia Woolf uses in Mrs. Dalloway to reflect the alienation of individuals in a society that can’t talk to the people closest to them, and that delicate line of “Proportion” between the sane and the insane. Mrs. Dalloway uses that "stream of consciousness narrative technique" that is indicative of twentieth century literature; a quintessential Modernist work.

But, there’s this guy in my class…we’ll call him Jerry. Jerry absolutely doesn’t get it. He doesn’t like fiction, regarding it as “just a bunch of made up stuff that doesn’t make sense”. He only took the class to fill an English requirement, and Brit Lit was the only thing that fit into his schedule. I guess I should point out that Jer’ is some kind of technical major, and in a way I understand. I felt a similar isolation in a math class involving assigning equations to lines on a graph…((ugh)). But, I think Jer’ needs an attitude adjustment. I think literature, fiction can teach us a lot about societies and eras in our history through the lives of ordinary people. I don’t think it matters whether the character in the story is “a real person” or not. All of the values, beliefs, ideas, desires, dreams, etc. of the person who wrote the story are reflected in every aspect of a narrative; even if it’s not autobiographical. And that is real.

So Jer’, free your mind; consider the possibilities, breath…breath…breath…

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