The Semester Has Begun!
As it turned out, my position in the Dean's office only lasted through the summer, but for the semester I have a research assistantship with a professor in the Women's and Gender Studies department and I'll be continuing as the GCS blogger.
Since I am writing a two-semester thesis, I am registered for one class this semester. I'm taking Criticism of Children's Literature, and we've had one class meeting so far. The class seems fantastic. I have absolutely no prior background in the field of children's lit, so most of the material--apart from some of the critical methodologies--is very new.
Our first assignment for the class, due tomorrow, for the second class meeting, is a brief analysis of a passage from a children's or YA novel that we remember reading when we were young. We have to apply the critical perspectives and techniques that we discussed in the first class, which were formalism and New Criticism. So we must focus on the text itself, independent from its cultural context or its relationship to the author and the reader.
The book I have chosen is Snake Dreamer, an obscure YA novel that I read and re-read over and over again when I was about ten years old. The premise of the novel is that the sixteen-year-old protagonist is plagued with violent, devastating night terrors about snakes writhing around her head. The symbolism is obvious, and the novel's fantastic elements are awkward and clunky, but I think the book has something compelling to say about women and madness. It will always have a special place in my heart because it prominently features my favorite monster, Medusa.
There's also new GCS cohort this semester, of course, and while I don't have any classes with the new students, my class is looking forward to making them feel welcome, and continuing our program's spirit of support and collaboration.