Greener Pastures [No Doubt]

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

With not much going on in the way of fun and exciting in the great land of Budapest, I figure I would finally get around to a discussion of my classes. I wish I could report that I was seeing awesome things and eating delicious foods and relaxing, but that is not the case. Grad school seems to interrupt life quite a lot. At this point it doesn't really matter that I'm in Budapest, rather I am in grad school. It could be on Mars and I probably wouldn't know the difference (except the metro might be cleaner on Mars).

But first, an update.

I am finally feeling somewhat better. My energy is still remarkably low and I therefore get fatigued very, very quickly. I've had to, over the past week and a half, learn to balance school work with naps or at least going to bed reasonably early (before 11pm). This has done a lot for me in terms of getting healthy again, but has also done a remarkable amount for my sanity. I'm not the type of person who can just keep going non-stop. I need breaks, I need my sleep, and I need a moment to just sit down and take a breath and get out of the way of life for a moment. They say that sometimes illnesses can be a blessing in disguise, and I am starting to see this one as just that. I may have been miserable for a full week, but it was a reminder of my own limitations. I cannot do everything no matter how hard I try, so I need to learn to pick and choose what is essential to get done, and what can get brushed over. This is a good life lesson - I need time for me, both physically and mentally.

I'm just going to give quick descriptions of two of my classes in this post: Political Theology and Academic Writing.

Political Theology
Course Description on Syllabus: Carl Schmitt’s “Political Theology” is one of the most influential works of the 20th century, its basic claim being: “All significant concept of the modern theory of the state are secularized theological concepts”. On a truly global scale, it influenced theory, terminology and methodology of the social sciences and historiography. The course will evaluate the concept, its explanatory value, its validity and applicability.
My Take: I think this may be my favorite class that I'm taking this semester. Intellectually it works with ideas that I find interesting - the relationship between politics and religion. There is such a great history that link the two that it is next to impossible to state today that the two can be completely and totally separated. At even the most basic level, we'd have to create entirely new terminology for one of them as the history of the terminology is so mixed. The sources we've drawn from so far are interesting (Augustine, Cicero, Biblical, etc) and all make you think about politics and theology in ways you've never thought to before.

Academic Writing
Course Description on Syllabus: This course is designed to provide a review of the skills, standards, and expectations of the History and Medieval Studies Departments as regards the skills of academic writing, the documentation of sources, and oral presentations. During the semester, students will write at least two essays (varying between 2500 and 5000 words) that will prepare them for writing in other classes and ultimately the thesis. Oral presentation skills will also be developed through class participation and formal presentations.
My Take: This is my least favorite class. I understand the importance of it for non-native English speakers, and even to an extent native speakers. However, the way in which information is given is not in a way to make it useful to native speakers. The amount of work required (volume of written papers outside of class) is far too great, especially when compared to what is gained from it. I have, however, picked up a few tricks on footnotes, which will be useful. And I got to completely cut apart an argument of a famous historian, which was fun (they wanted a critical essay, so I gave them a critical essay - the most critical written in the class).

1 comment:

  1. so glad you are feeling better!! It stinks to be sick!


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