USCS: One Year Down (probably 500 more to go)


Seeing how this was my first year at a real college (I don’t consider community college “real college”, just high school with better choices), I feel it necessary to babble about this year in retrospect.
It has been a tremendous year, to say the least. My first quarter was a bit of a shocker for two reasons:

  1. I found out that University level work is not all that difficult, despite people telling me that “it’s so hard” or “it’s a lot of work”. Not really, to be honest. Yes, it’s work, but would I say that, for the most part, it’s drastically more so than community college? No, not really.
  2. I got a little kick in the butt as far as writing is concerned (non-fiction essay writing). I’m a good writer, or so I’m told, so it’s not so much that I couldn’t write, it was that I still had some things to learn. And I feel like I have learned those things, or some of them. This is good news.

I learned quite a lot about literary theory in my Lit. 1 course (which is good because I had never heard of literary theory before, as odd as that sounds) and learned even more in my Opera course, which was probably one of my more memorable courses in the last five years. I know, it’s Opera! But it was actually really fascinating. You’d be surprised what lies behind all that funny singing and exaggerated performances. The last course for that quarter was Modern German Fiction, which was entertaining. I can’t say I learned a great deal in that course (perhaps I got a little jolt in how to look at literature), but I enjoyed it because the works were really good and the professor was rather entertaining (and I like that professor, even though several people in the class hated him). The result of that semester was an A+ (Opera), A (German Fiction), and A- (Lit. 101), which is all good for me.

The second quarter (winter) proved to be much of the same, although perhaps more of a challenge on the reading front. My British Canon class was entertaining, but draining at the same time. There was quite a lot of reading that needed to be done for it (a bit too much, in my opinion, to be very effective in discussing all the works), but the professor was probably the best professor you could ever have for the material (which stretched from Chaucer to right around when the English colonies were being formed in America). He made a lot of great jokes, brought our attention to the myriad of meanings for words we take for granted (most of which I have forgotten and a vast majority of which were dirty in the 1400s). We even got to read Rochester, who is the filthiest poet pre-WW2 that I have ever read.
Then there was my Colonial American Literature course, which, I have to admit, was not all the entertaining. The professor was more interesting than the material, but at the same time, because of the professor, I at least enjoyed the course some. The end of that course was spent watching, and ridiculing, the special edition DVD of Pocahontas. Needless to say, the special edition is terrible (why does Disney think it’s a great idea to add new songs to an already entertaining film? And why do they try to play it off that their story is “truth” with little behind the scenes videos of artists saying how “we wanted to capture the real story”? The movie is BS…just say it is and we’ll all be happy with accepting it as entertainment).
The last class was my favorite: Science Fiction in Multicultural America. It was essentially a class focused on “Black speculative fiction”. We read a little Delany, a little Butler, and lots of other folks (like Mosley and some non-fiction stuff). It was a terrific class with a bizarre set of texts and movies, some of which were fantastic (Blade Runner is a good film to watch for its elements, but not for entertainment value). One of my favorite courses ever.
The result of that quarter was a B (British Canon), A (Colonial Fiction), and A- (Scifi).

There came Spring Quarter, the one I just finished. Most of you recall that I was overloaded. This was my own stupidity. The classes weren’t necessarily hard, but combined together it was so much reading my head nearly popped. Lit. 101 (Animal Theory) is a required course for the literature major (not the Animal Theory part, but the Lit. 101 part; Animal Theory is just a theme). The course is an attempt at familiarizing you with a specific form of literary theory. In the end, I wasn’t sure that the class worked as a whole. While Animal Theory is interesting, it needed more focus on the literary aspect of it, and less on the ethical/political/social aspect (yes, those would be in the literature, but we weren’t discussing the literature in those contexts, but Animals). Still, I think the goal of the class was to make me question the human relation to itself and to the animal kingdom, and it did that, though perhaps not in the way that the professor intended (I’m still going to eat meat and support animal testing).
The other course I took was Global Fiction (which had a specific theme of fiction from the African continent). This course was intense, not because it was hard, but because the subject matter was screwed up. I don’t know how much you all know about Apartheid in South Africa, but the things we read about and learned was disturbing. There was even a point where we watched recorded testimonies from Truth & Reconciliation Commission. It was a lot to take in and unsettling to hear the real stories of real things that happened to people.
Then there was my independent study on Philip K. Dick. What can I say? I got to choose my own coursework, make my own syllabus, and have fun while doing it. It was fantastic. I am in love with PKD’s work now that I’ve been intimately involved in his work. Working with one of my previous professors (my scifi course actually) proved to be an excellent idea. Not much else to say about that.
Overall, the quarter went great, ending with an A (scifi), A (Lit. 101, which was a surprise), and an A- (Global Fiction).

That leaves me with:
One A+
Four As
Three A-s
One B

Not bad if I do say so myself. No, I’m not bragging. I have every right to be happy about my performance in school and if you don’t like it, tough (*insert sticking out my tongue here*).

Yeah, so it was a good year indeed.

About the Author:

Shaun Duke is an aspiring writer, a reviewer, and an academic. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Digital Rhetoric and Writing at Bemidji State University. He received his PhD in English from the University of Florida and studies science fiction, postcolonialism, digital fan cultures, and digital rhetoric.

2 thoughts on “USCS: One Year Down (probably 500 more to go)

  1. WAY. TO. GO!

    What a great year for you – and yes, you have every right to brag.

    I was able to do several independent study courses. Two of them were related to science fiction. Isn’t it awesome when you can do that?

    That’s what homeschooling is like for my kids a lot of the time. 🙂

    Awesome “first” year – keep it up!

  2. Yeah, I was totally stoked to do the IS course. It was a lot of fun and I hope to do some more.

    Thanks for dropping by! I subbed to your blog and podcast :). Hope to see you around again!

Leave a Reply