Final Reflection

24 Apr

So the semester has officially come to an end (at least for our class) 😦 I am actually kind of sad because I enjoyed this class very much! I enjoyed the material we covered, the professor we had, and all the classmates who made this experience very fun. 🙂 Maybe it’s also the fact that I am graduating on Sunday (ahhhhhh I’m so nervous!) but everything is just so bittersweet. As parting words from one classmate to another, I would like to thank those of you I’ve had the honor of meeting this past semester and I wish you all the best of luck! After today we will no longer have class meetings and discussions on the material we’ve read and the awesome novel ideas we come up with, but I will always cherish these memories 🙂 I’ve never laughed so much in one class and so thank you for that! 

I’d also like to say a special thanks to Professor Tange! You have been an awesome and exciting instructor from day one and I, personally, appreciate your patience with us and your willingness to engage in some of the outrageous conversations we’ve had. For a class without many guidelines, you have done an excellent job and have encouraged us to pursue our dreams. Thanks for showing us all the different options we have as Lit majors and thank you for helping explore ideas we might’ve never come up with on our own! 

 

Have a nice summer everyone and God Bless 🙂 

New Page :)

24 Apr

Just an update letting you guys know that I have created a new page in which my Multi-Genre Project is posted! Go check it out and let me know what you think! 

Long Blog Post #2 – The Importance of Humanities

2 Apr

Over the course of the semester I have noticed how important classes such as our Lit 490 class are for programs like ours. This class pushes us to think more independently about the way we view literature and how we can apply it in daily and academic life. We’ve discussed several authors, theories, ideas, and forms/styles of writing and the fact that we get so many different responses on each topic makes the class much more interesting. I love to sit and listen to the debates which arise and the arguments put forth to support a given idea. One of my favorite discussion days happened a couple weeks ago when a classmate of mine, Andrew, brought up an awesome solution to the question: how can we show the rest of the world that Literature and Literary Studies are important for our civilization?

…His idea was to start a revolution!

Of course the idea is practically impossible, but after joking about writing an awesome novel on it, I actually sat down to think about it. What if we did start a revolution? What if we took to the streets and protested our cause (which still has no definite question I believe) until the whole world would see that the Humanities field is indeed an important and crucial part of our society…it is necessary! Or, better yet, what if we took out the Humanities from schools and public access, making it a treat for elites only!? Although the latter option is certainly appealing, after all, the world would eventually realize how important it is after it’s gone, but I believe we’d be taking too much of a risk doing that. If we were to remove all Humanity fields from schools for a time period, we would be robbing a select group of people who will eventually grow up illiterate and uneducated of our Earth’s history. It would definitely get the point across, but I cannot say I’d support this route.

Many Americans today feel it is their right to know how to read, write, and study history, anthropology, philosophy etc. They no longer realize that it is, in fact, a privilege granted to them whereas most people around the world do not have this comfort of public schooling (at least to this extent). I have had the opportunity to grow up in a very tight culture that dearly clings to its traditions and beliefs. Influence from the American atmosphere has definitely seeped in a little, but not much and this viewpoint allowed me to see the world from a somewhat different perspective. As I’ve stated several times, I am a first-generation Romanian-Hungarian growing up in Southeast Michigan. My family is the typical traditional family who do not want to intertwine their traditions with American culture…think about the movie: My Big Fat Greek Wedding…yup that’s me lol. From my parents’ perspectives, the fact that I like to involve myself in a lot of American traditions looks like a state of rebellion or abandonment of my own culture. This is obviously not true since I absolutely love the environment I grew up in, but I really think that we should allow ourselves to expand more. After all, they did move to America for a better life, so why not embrace the culture that changed the way our family lives?

With that being said, my parents did embrace some of the benefits of American culture such as our education. Like any immigrant family, school is number 1! They constantly remind us of how lucky we are to be able to read and write and study any field we want, simply because we can afford it. If we somehow forget this privilege we are then treated to a long lecture of “well back in my day we…” “you need to appreciate what you have because when I was a kid…” and so on. The funny thing is that even though we are constantly reminded that we are blessed, no one quite seems to understand my love of Literature and History; it’s ironic actually. When I first told my family I was going to study Literature and History they laughed at me and asked me what I would do with those degrees. I didn’t really have an answer at the time, but I just couldn’t fathom how they devalued the practicality of Literature as a career and yet lectured me on its importance and privilege only a few years earlier. It just doesn’t make sense!

I thought it was only my family at first (since I was practically sheltered for the first 14 years of my life) but the more I was in school the more I noticed this shared common idea that Literature (the Humanities actually) is, well, unpractical for most people. It provides no steady source of income, therefore it is a waste of time…or so they think. However, I’d like to counter this thought because given my experience with Humanities Majors vs. Science/Technology/Math Majors, we generally tend to be more cultured. We’re better speakers and communicators, better writers, more critical thinkers, more creative, and overall much more willing to embrace the idea of globalization. Of course I wouldn’t want to put all cultures into one big melting pot because individuality is nice, but then again completely segregating ourselves is also a bad idea. We need to find a middle ground and this is where the problem seems to lie. How, then, can we make a step towards finding this common ground?

Screws to an Engine.

18 Mar

I’ve been slacking a little with these blogs, but I can finally find a few hours to organize my thoughts and play catch-up with some of the discussions we’ve had. Sorry for the delay 🙂

So a couple weeks ago our class was discussing the importance of Literature and Literary Studies. We were faced with the question:

“Why does the Humanities department get slammed so much by other professions such as the Sciences and Technology? Why can’t they see our value?”  

This debate has been going on for a long time and it seems like no matter how hard we try to prove and explain ourselves, we simply can’t seem to reach an agreement. We debated and discussed amongst ourselves ways we can try to convince/ show the world that our field is indeed necessary for our civilizations, but they were only arguments within the classroom and, therefore, had no effect on our situation. However, while they were sitting there debating, I thought about a nice way to explain our function:

Think about a car engine…like any working tool, it requires a network of several smaller functioning tools, working together to get the whole thing running. I personally don’t know how an engine exactly works, but I do know that one of the most important parts of the engine are in fact the screws that hold everything together. When it comes to actual function and acknowledgement they are probably the most insignificant scraps of metal, yet an engine would be completely worthless without them; everything would simply fall apart. 

The Humanities might look like a complete waste of time to a lot of people (especially when they keep asking what we will do with our majors), but in reality, our civilizations would not be the way they are now without the progression of literature, art, history, philosophy, etc. The more we advance in our studies, the more we pave a way for other fields to grow.

My Own Literacy AutoBiography

12 Feb


Going Against the Current of Societal Norms in the Romanian Community

             Being raised in a Romanian community is quite different from the way I perceive my American colleagues have grown up; I was completely surrounded by the Romanian culture, language, beliefs and traditions. Before I started school I had no idea that the world was so vast and different so I guess you could say I was sheltered. Early on I noticed I was different from many of my peers because I always excelled in school, especially in my English classes, and I never really cared about “fitting in.” In fifth grade I found myself getting excited for class trips to the library to pick out our weekly reading for our AR programs and I believe this was the start of my unanticipated reading career.

Thinking back, my earliest memory with books were looking at the pictures of Disney books such as Cinderella and The Lion King when I was roughly five years old, but my earliest memory with actually reading books was the American Girl Collection (I don’t remember anything before this because I hated reading until I stumbled upon this collection). They were easy reads about the life of young girls who grew up in different time periods in history. For example, one book would be about an “American girl” and her adventures as a child set in the 1920’s while another was about a different girl who grew up in the 1700s. It gave me an insight on the lives of people growing up in those eras. I know they were fictional, but I believe the authors did their homework and tried to set them in a historically correct point in time. I absolutely loved those books and couldn’t get my self to put them down. Ever since this experience I realized I have a passion for reading…and would later on find out for writing as well.

I haven’t read much over the years because I don’t have a lot of time; due to work, school (assigned readings from those classes) and other obligations, however, whenever I get a chance to truly enjoy a book I take advantage of the opportunity. Reading, for me, isn’t about analyzing texts and intents the author might have tried to incorporate in the story. Instead, they are relaxant tools and stress relievers. I personally believe novels were created for enjoyment; a source of entertainment, but the study of literature has brought it so much farther. It’s not necessarily a bad thing because we can learn a lot by studying a text, however I’m starting to realize that I prefer to simply sit down and enjoy a book and just take whatever emotion or lesson I can get out of it. The type of books I enjoy reading are not very popular and almost always have some kind of tie to my faith. The top three that come to mind are Redeeming Love: by Francine Rivers, The Cross and the Switchblade: by David Wilkerson and Crazy Love: by Frances Chan. I like these sorts of books because I feel as if the stories, although [some are] fictional, are probable and a valuable lesson can be extracted from them. These however are my beliefs and are merely a reflection of how I view things (and all of it comes from the way I was raised).

The Romanian community here in Michigan is solely centered around our faith and they set very strict guidelines on how we should act, talk, live, speak etc. The bible was the only book my parents and elders ever emphasized and encouraged us to read. As a young girl I did not like it because I didn’t understand it; I had no desire to read it but I still new my bible stories and basic lessons. My parents never minded me reading other books, but my dad would sometimes comment about it and try to tell me it was a waste of time. I disagreed. Reading was the only time I could get away from reality; when I had problems or worries I would pick up a novel and just sit down and enjoy it because I knew no matter what happened there would always be a good ending to the story. In a sense, the books I read encouraged me to not dwell on my problems too much because somehow they would work out and ironically most of the time they did. I won’t deny, however, that I believe this was a result of God’s interference of some sort, due to the faith I produced as a 12 year old girl.

Many people think I’m such a nerd when it comes to school and especially in English because I love it so much. Oftentimes I find myself getting excited to edit a friend’s essay or critically analyze a new book I began reading. Majority of the Romanians I grew up around emigrated from Romania to the United States and so they all have this “American Dream” mentality where they all picture their kids growing up to be rich doctors and lawyers. Of course I was the first disappointment for my family when I made it clear I was not going to become either of those. I refused to work in a field I did not love and as a result there was a lot of tension in my house for a while, but my parents always told me they would never force me to do something I did not want to do so they eventually let it go. Now the constant question is what I will do with a History and Literature major and to be honest I have no idea yet. All I know is that I want to work in a field that is focused around either history or English/literature (or both). In a world of fantasy where your greatest wish can come true, my dream is to become a famous author who has the chance to change the hearts and lives of millions. After I allow myself to dream for a little, my realistic logic sets in and reminds me that although this is very possible, it is not the ideal outcome so I resort to being open to any door which God chooses to open for me as a literary scholar and historian.

What’s so Important About a Curriculum?

12 Feb

*Before I begin my rant on yet another idea which was invoked upon me by a class discussion, I want you guys to keep in mind that throughout the blog I use my Literature major as an example to state my claim. Please make sure to think of it in only in this context because the argument I will be developing can apply to Anthropology majors, Science majors, Philosophy, Humanities  etc….Lit was just my most handy example*

Lately we’ve been discussing the uses of Literature and its purpose, definition and the different philosophies surrounding it. Out of these discussions I was most intrigued with the question of “who defines Literature/ who determines what is considered Literature and what is not?” All of us seem to come up with similar opinions, however we cannot all seem to come to the same conclusion on this question, which makes sense since we’re Literature majors and we’ve all had different experiences with it.

Most of us agree that we need to set some degree of “parameters” around what Literature is/entails, but the question is what are those parameters supposed to be? Another question we are faced with is how are we choosing to look at it? We can chose to look at Literature from an Academic standpoint or we can look at it from a personal standpoint; should there even be a difference between these two parameters?

Although I believe each individual should be able to establish their own parameters about what Literature is for them personally, I still most definitely agree for setting parameters in an Academic setting, but the problem faced by Academia is which texts to consider as the important ones; the texts every literary scholar should be familiar with. “The Classics,” for example, are a set of texts which Academia suggests every scholar should be familiar with. I don’t know who defined them but nonetheless they exist and some of the texts included are the Latin and Greek writings in philosophy, science, literature, and religion. I personally have never really read any of these texts, yet I do know about the works of Homer, the Iliad and the Odyssey through many of the classes I have taken here at Eastern. Why are these so frequently taught in the Universities? Because a curriculum was established which states that in order to receive a degree from a school one must have a general knowledge about x,y, and z to be considered “knowledgeable” “scholarly” and “properly/fully educated on a matter.”

One of the main programs that circles around the institution of education and schools is the establishment of a curriculum; a set of required courses which must be taken in order to be considered a “professional” in a given field of study. I’m not saying these curriculum’s are bad, but I do have a problem with how strictly they are followed and I’ll give you two reasons why:

1.) As a college student who decided to study Literature and History as my personal profession I believe I have the right to decide the course of my education regarding the texts and ideas I want to study. I’m not saying guidelines and suggestions wouldn’t help, but I don’t like the fact that as a Literature major I am required to take at least one course in Literature from every Century of our Earth’s history. Suggestions are okay, especially if I’m in my first couple years of Lit and have absolutely no idea what area of Literature I want to focus on, but the fact that I do know what I want to study and have no choice in deciding whether or not I want to look into 20th Century Literature really bugs me. I am in my senior year in college and know what area I want to study so any further “required” classes that have nothing to do with my interest are, simply put, a pain in my ass. I (personally) believe these classes are a waste of my time and money because after the given class is over I most likely will not look over the material again.

I realize the argument can be put that: “a general knowledge of these various fields can’t hurt me and, if anything, might happen to be beneficial one day” and my reply is that, although I agree with this argument 100% I would rather leave that general knowledge for the pros and use that extra time to invest in learning more about my area of study. This would be much more beneficial for my profession that knowing random information about a different field/area that I would need to research again anyway (to refresh my memory).

2.) My second reason as to why I am not fond of the curriculum system is that every curriculum is made/decided by someone…a person[s]…it might be some big hotshot Dean or Board of a College/University but the point is that the curriculum created is set up by a group of elite alumni who believe we should be learning more about X philosophy or Y theory etc. This really concerns me because it means we are susceptible to the personal agendas of these select groups of people. I’m not saying this is necessarily the case but the system can easily be distorted to promote one biased idea over another and this is very bad because it means that as “scholars” and “students” we are not being given the same, fair amount of information on both sides of the spectrum; one idea is promoted above another so how then can we determine for ourselves what we really want to believe?

I know I’m probably digging a really deep hole for myself by venturing to this issue, but we simply cannot claim to be properly educated if vital information is withheld from us and I find this to be quite problematic for our future. We need to be trusted as intelligent individuals who can handle both sides of a claim and are able to decide for ourselves what position we want to hold; it’s unfair that some people feel the need to make these decisions for us…buttttt this is all just my speculation. I don’t have any tangible proof for this because I have not researched the topic enough to back up my rant.

Career Fair…

8 Feb

Soo this Wednesday coming up I am going to the Career Fair EMU is holding in their student ballroom….I’m kinda nervous! I’ve been putting it off for a while now because every time it is scheduled it’s smack in the middle of my classes and I didn’t want to skip any. I guess this time I have no choice, so, to my fellow classmates, would someone be willing to send me an email of what we covered for the class on February 13th?

I’ve never been to one of these and don’t really know what to expect…this is the part where I ask you guys for help. How can I prepare? Do I need to take anything with me? If so, what??? Do I need to dress professional or casual? Are there a list of questions I should a.) come prepared with and b.) be prepared to answer? How can I find out what kind of employers will be there? And how can I determine who to keep my eye on?

All of these questions keep ringing in my head and it seems like the closer the date gets the more stressed I become! I feel so unprepared for all of it 😦

On a more excited note, I was checking my emails today and found an email from an adviser from the Across the Pond program showing interest in helping me find a good grad school to attend in England or possibly some other country in Europe. I cannot begin to explain or contain my excitement about the thought of being able to live in Europe for a few years! Nothing is set in stone yet, but the email gave me some encouragement that I might actually have a shot at this! 😀 Nonetheless, I’m trusting God to open doors wherever’s necessary 🙂 I feel like I’m on cloud 9 right now lol.

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