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Ideas. Tools. Art. Build --not buy. What works, what doesn't. Enjoy new media and software aesthetics at Tekka.
Theodore Gray (The Magic Black Box)
Faith, Life, Art, Academics. Sermons from my family away from home: Eden Chapel!
My other home: The Cambridge Union Society (in 2007, I designed our [Fresher's Guide])
The Economist daily news analysis
Global Higher Ed blog
Chapter I: Born. Lived. Died.
There is a Chapter II.
Locale: Lancaster County Pa, USA
Religion: My faith is the primary focus of my life, influencing each part of me. I have been forgiven, cleansed, and empowered by Jesus Christ. Without him, I am a very thoughtful, competent idiot. With him, I am all I need to be, all I could ever hope for. I oppose institutional religious stagnation, but getting together with others is a good idea. God is real. Jesus Christ is his Son, and the Bible is true. Faith is not human effort. It's human choice. I try to be the most listening, understanding, and generous person I can.
Interests: Anything I can learn. Training and experience in new media, computer science, anglophone literature, education, parliamentary debate, democratic procedure, sculpture, and trumpet performance. Next: applied & computational linguistics, probably.
Education: Private school K-3. Home educated 4-12. Graduated Summa Cum Laude from Elizabethtown College in Jan 2006. As the 2006 Davies-Jackson Scholar, I studied English at St. John's College, Cambridge University from 2006 - 2008.
Memberships: Eden Baptist, Cambridge Union Society, ACM, AIP, GPA.
Alum of the Elizabethtown College Honors Program, sponsored by the Hershey Company.
In the fall of 2006, I began a two-year undergraduate program in English Literature at St. John's College, Cambridge. This part of the blog documents my studies. It's partly a way for me and my colleagues to remember our assignments, so it might be a bit tedious. However, I hope it provides a useful insight into the day-to-day academics of my time at Cambridge University, especially for Americans who wish to read for an Affiliated Degree, or possible applicants for the Davies-Jackson Studentship.
English program background
Sunday, 1 Oct 2006 :-: ["Permalink"]
As an undergraduate, my time will be split among lectures and supervisions. At least two times a day, I will be attending lectures on topics relating to the paper I'm reading. Technically, I am able to attend any lectures I wish in the entire university. In reality, I expect to only go to lectures specifically related to my course -- at least during the first term.
I'm reading for two papers during Michelmas term, so I have one supervision some weeks, and two supervisions on others. During supervisions, I get together with that paper's supervisor and 1-3 other students reading for the paper to discuss the week's readings for about an hour. Then I go into a private session with the supervisor to discuss a paper I have sent him around 48 hours prior.
My First Supervision/Assignment
Sunday, 1 Oct 2006 :-: ["Permalink"]
Today, I received my first assignment, for the Literary Criticism paper. The assignment?
- . Pick a poem
- . Write a 1,500 word essay about a single word found in the poem.
I can't wait :-). Thanks, Dr. Martin, for all the help on explication.
I'm also to take a look at "7 types of ambiguity" by Empson.
Thursday, 5 Oct 2006 :-: ["Permalink"]
The matriculation service, held in the chapel on Tuesday night, was amazing. The president spoke, we sang hymns, heard the choir perform Britten's "Te Deum," and even were treated to a quote by Douglas Adams,
If human beings don't keep exercising their lips, he thought, their mouths probably sizee up. After a few months' consideration and observation he abandoned this theory in favor of a new one. If they don't keep on exercising their lips, he thought, their brains start working.
Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.
It is a rare mind indeed that can render the hitherto non-existent blindingly obvious. The cry 'I could have thought of that' is a very popular and misleading one, for the fact is that they didn't, and a very significant and revealing fact it is too.
(at this point, the chaplain Clive, noted, "Mind the size of a planet, indeed". I think only one other person got the reference, but we were both trying very hard not to laugh.)
What a way to begin the term! The scripture passages were from I Corinthians 13 and Luke 12.
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
** * **
He said to his disciplies, 'Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? If then you are not able to do so small a thing as that, why do you worry about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.
We also heard choral music of Brahms ("How lovely are thy dwellings") and the hymn "Now Thank We All Our God," which I had previously used as the theme song for my graduation from high school.
To live in this place, study in this place, develop in this place must be among the most awe-inspiring yet strengthening experiences possible.
for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, For ever and ever. Amen.
Thursday, 5 Oct 2006 :-: ["Permalink"]
I sat in on a first set of lectures today. Amazing. If there was ever any doubt that I should be studying for an undergraduate degree at Cambridge, that doubt has disappeared. Elizabethtown College was just what I needed to be opened to a world of inquiry and creativity and introduced to the disciplines of formal intellectual pursuit. But at Cambridge can be found a level of refinement and quality I never heretofore imagined.
I was initially rather skeptical about the very idea of lectures, since it brought to mind large lecture halls and boring presentations. But I find (at least within the faculty of English) that the lecturers are so capable and artful with their turns of phrase, and so completely full of content that an hour passes by with amazing rapidity. I understand now how full term can be a mere 8 weeks. The quality and quantity of information during those weeks must be massive.
I have four finely-written pages of notes --I will have to move to Tinderbox, if I am to keep up, although I actually write in some cases faster than I type, since typing tends toward transcription rather than the adaptive rephrasing/summary which is required by the slower process of handwriting-- but here are some ideas culled from the lectures.
- The idea that the universe began with words is quite radical. It is one thing to describe something which already exists, but how can language describe the very things which give words their meanings in our minds?
- Tragedy (and I suppose much of literature) brings moral ideas to specific situations. Tragedy from the past reminds us that the idea of social progress is in some ways naive; humanity still faces the same deep problems with which the ancient Greeks struggled.
- What is criticism? Giving reasons for our reactions to something. Why do it? Why seek others' responses?
- To gain assurance that we share a common experience
- To find ideas unique to others, thus improving our world view
- "Good criticism holds moral and technical qualities of literature in tension" --D.S. Logan
- "We read literature to modify our modes of experience and -- I'm sticking my neck out here -- live better." -- D.S. Logan
- More Logan: Why study literature and engage in practical criticism?
- To help us get the full significance of communication
- To guard us from being duped
- To sharpen our historical insight (history is most immediate, most alive through the literature of a time)
- To become aware of the limitations of the ideas of our own age through the discovery and evaluation of the attitudes and assumptions of the past.
- Just like science, literary studies strive for a consensus which it knows will never be reached, but which produces a swath of interesting and useful ideas in its path.
and my personal favorite:
- Stupidity and perceptiveness coalesce in interesting ways. (D. S. Logan)