And we're off!
Monday, August 30, 1999
School Starts

And so, I was back in town just in time to start school.

Actually, school technically started on Friday. I'd had one class then, but I decided to drop it. I'd deliberately booked one more class than I'd actually intended to take, in order to give myself a bit of flexibility, after some fairly unpleasant happenings in the past two semesters. The Tuesday/Friday course was, in fact, the emergency backup I'd planned to drop if nothing else failed.

The catch with the Tuesday/Friday backup was that, when sundown reaches its earliest point, Shabbos will begin twenty minutes after the end of class, which would only barely give me enough time to run back to my apartment at the end of class. Workable, but not especially convenient.

Under the circumstances, I figure it'll be best in I return to the family home in Far Rockaway on weekends, especially once my mother returns to the house. So I dropped that course, leaving me with my original four choices.

Three of which started today. Talk about going from zero to sixty.

But it wasn't really too bad. It being the first day of class, they were all mostly devoted to giving out the syllabi, generally introducing the courses, and assigning homework. Nothing too taxing.

I've belatedly realized that I selected four writing-intensive courses this semester. Individually, that's not a problem, but together... I must have been out of my mind.

That, however, was not the latest crisis. The latest crisis centers around the first of the three classes I had today: Women's Studies 101: Introduction to Women's Studies. Not very long into this class, I found myself moving towards the conclusion that Mary Daly is right: this sort of class really ought to be taught to single-gender groups.

Suffice it to say that I really didn't feel very comfortable in this class, the way it was taught. Mostly vibes from the professor, which I can't quite pin down and articulate. But despite my credentials (I've already read most of the books on the syllabus, and have written papers on some of the assigned term paper topics), I felt out of place there.

I think it's largely the fact that she seems to be taking it as a given that everyone in the room is coming from an essentially similar background, as part of an overall patriarchal culture in which all of us live. The thrust of the course basically seems to be one in which, using lots of writings and stuff, she'll show us all what's really been going on all our lives, with the stuff we bring to the table basically serving to back up whatever she has to say.

I should note that this is a tentative attempt at getting a handle on the situation, and that the first period was only fifty minutes; hardly enough time to fairly assess any course.

With that having been said... the vibes I got were mediocre at best. They worried me.

Had this happened two semesters back, or even last semester, I would have shrugged it off and hoped the class would improve with time. But if there's one thing the last two semesters have taught me, it's that I need to trust my instincts when it comes to first classes. I decided not to get trapped again.

So I'm bailing out, about which more in tomorrow's entry.

Women's Studies 201: Theories of Feminism, on the other hand, got off to a very good start. I felt like getting up and singing "I think I'm gonna like it here!" in fact. Very good vibes from the professor, interesting syllabus, immediate efforts made to involve everyone in the class, with an interest in everyone's varying backgrounds and perspectives... Gosh, I'm looking forward to this class.

I was, however, a bit startled to find out that most of the class is taking it at least partly because it's designated "writing intensive," and thus fulfills one of the requirements for graduation. So far, I seem to be about the only English major in the class, although about a third of us haven't introduced ourselves yet, as we ran out of time. I'm also one of only two males in the class, but that's fine with me. :-)

Finally, there's English 255: 20th Century Literature. They switched professors on us during the summer, but while I'd been looking forward to taking a class with the original professor, I'd also been interested in eventually taking one with the replacement, so that was okay. So far, so good, especially when you consider that I regard literature survey courses as a necessary evil at best.