Tales of a Thirteenth-Grade Nothing II: Encountering the Core

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Now that midterm season is fully underway, Bwog hopes that the eager young flock comprising the Class of 2010 has managed to masterfully memorize the Medea and can hopefully hum the whole Histories of Herodotus. What, you freshmen were expecting some kind of QuiCore? We couldn’t just strip away SparkNotes’ raison d’être- or deprive you of the thrill of Thucydides. Curious, then, to evaluate first-years’ progress, we elicited this report from freshman correspondent Dan D’Addario:

I have to be honest, I didn’t know that much about the Core Curriculum when I first came here. More specifically, I didn’t know that it would take over my life, precluding me from being like my friends at Brown who take four pass-fail courses in bone-setting and rhythmic gymnastics. No, I’m forced to learn things. And learning is hard. Forthwith, I present my Core learnings, having reached my first midterm of college.

Literature Humanities

The Medea – You know that girl who got dumped by her boyfriend, and then immediately started spreading rumors about how small his dick was and how he gave her herpes? Of course – everyone knows that girl. And how she then started a Facebook group mocking her ex and keyed his car? Sure, sounds familiar. And then gave the ex’s new girlfriend a poisoned robe, killing the girlfriend and her father? And killed her (hypothetical) children? Medea – role model to crazy exes everywhere.

Oedipus the King – And to think all this time I thought people were saying, “edible complex”…

After the jump, our intrepid first-year explores the world of University Writing and Major Cultures…

University Writing

With the exception of the delightful Christopher Hitchens – the gin-soaked-militant atheist-crazy Vanity Fair columnist (the one not named Dominick Dunne) – I have never heard of any of these writers before, nor, I’m guessing, will I ever hear of them again. But now I know how to write a lens essay, which will surely come in handy. I mean, just because I haven’t been asked to relate scholarly texts to touchy-feely stories from my own life for any other class yet doesn’t mean I won’t be asked to… I’m wasting my time, aren’t I?

Major Cultures

Orientalism. Orientalism. Or. I. Ent. Al. Ism. Half a term of a MEALAC Major Cultures class, and I eat, breathe, and sleep Edward Said, though I’d be hard-pressed to tell you any major tenet of Islam or any contemporary Middle Eastern leader. But hey, Orientalism! Do you know about Orientalism?

To be fair, we’re also reading an ancient Indian text – the Ramayana, which forms a nice counterpoint to the Iliad and the Odyssey. If you thought Odysseus was a bad-ass, Rama accepts banishment for fifteen years because his crazy stepmom pretended to die and manipulated Rama’s father. While away, he ends up in a village of monks, or something. Also cool – the book’s edition is half in Sanskrit. Take that, Richmond Lattimore!

In conclusion, Orientalism.

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  1. um, bwog?  

    get someone on frontiers. how could you neglect half of the much-suffering freshman class?

  2. I wish  

    I was this clever as this freshman. C'mon anonymous commentors: rip into this kid to disguise your loneliness

  3. uhh..  

    You've never heard of David Denby, Martha Nussbaum, Eric Foner, Walter Benjamin, and Jonathan Franzen?

    Or do you have an abnormal section?

  4. Dan  

    We didn't read any of those authors (save Nussbaum, whom I hadn't heard of) in my section. Guess I'm abnormal.

  5. mark  

    as a junior, i'm still not as clever as dan. well done!

  6. or how about  

    how during every one of my Lit Hum classes thus far someone has made a reference to a phallic image. Is the freshman class really that sexually frustrated?

  7. lithum  

    = misogyny and phallic images. only.

  8. Paul  

    Which edition of the Ramayana do you have, Dan?

    And yeah, I had a similar experience in my MEALAC Major Cultures class, only instead of Said it was Islamic political theorists of the early 20th century.

  9. Jesus  

    Since, when is Eric Foner part of the University Writing? I swear one day they are going to erect the man a damned sacrificial altar on the steps of Low.

  10. oh freshmen  

    do you kids not talk to one another about your UW sections? if you did, you would realize there's a wide corpus of materials for the instructors to choose from, and not all select the same readings. some even go so far as to bring in stuff from outside this corpus...so yeah, you might get some mike davis with your joan didion or james baldwin

  11. Dan  

    Paul, I have the NYU Press edition - it's little (contains only Book Three of the text), teal green (pretty!), and about $23 at Labyrinth.

  12. Hmmm  

    I avoided talking about UW as much as possible...it was really a measure to maintain sanity. Six semesters later, it's probably still best not to speak of it.

  13. Pffft....  

    Mahabharat owns Ramayana+Iliad+Odyssey

  14. yep  

    I enjoyed it. Nothing compares to the "Bullshit Hum" essay of a couple years ago though.

  15. The Waitress  

    wow. this guy is comic gold. look out, or he'll be taking over EVERY CAMPUS PUBLICATION EVER!!!!! oh wait....too late.


  16. GGG  

    It's not Richmond Lattimore, but there are some sexy side by side translations of The Iliad and The Odyssey that are probably similar to your version of the Ramayana. But since we're on the topic... Fagle's translation owns all (and he just finished a translation of the Aeneid and that's just hot). But as far as epics go, Gilgamesh gets me pretty hot and bothered.

  17. Hmmm  

    I'm inclined to agree with you that Fagle's new translation is beautiful if you want to get a sense of the beauty and grandeur that Vergil wanted to convey. However, I still think Fitzgerald's translation is the most technically accurate and I'm upset it's no longer the version they use in the Lit Hum classes.
    Yes, Gilgamesh does own all.

  18. what?

    i feel like i'm at a t-ball game and all the parents are giving some kid a standing ovation for hitting a single. wtf? can we get some cynics on loan from the miriam post?

  19. god  

    Mocking other people is just so... invigorating, isn't it?

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