Originally posted on Blogger on 10 February 2015
At my home university, Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, PA, an hour north of Harrisburg, the capital, I’m a creative writing major. I love it and I’m hoping to break into the writing field at some point in my life. Creative writing happens to be a major that only exists in the States at the undergrad level, and even in the States, there are a limited number of programs and schools that allow you to become a creative writing major first semester of freshman year. Many colleges either have a creative writing program you can join for junior and senior years or an English major with a creative writing track. The creative writing program was a major factor in my decision to go to Susquehanna two and a half years ago and I’m so happy with the decision I made.
In the Fall of 2013 I also declared a history minor. It’s the part of my degree that I’m going to be working on during my semester in London. I’m also taking a Shakespeare class to complete the English Lit elective requirement of my major.
This week is the fourth week of classes. The first week was a little shaky because I ended up getting sick and having to skip a day of classes to sleep. Got through it fairly quickly though, and now I’m good. I’m taking the Shakespeare class I talked about, a theatre class where I get to see eight shows throughout the semester (two of which I’ve already gone to and they were fantastic), another Shakespeare class where we’re comparing different film adaptations of the plays, and two history classes. One is The England of the Magna Carta and the other is about the English Reformation in the 16th century.
I’m enjoying them all, and even though they’re all about history, they’re all taking the topic of history in different directions. It’s also interesting to see the overlaps within them, because even though the two Shakespeare classes started with his biography, they quickly went in different directions.
The two I was most excited for coming in were Shakespeare Lit and the Reformation. I’ve been a fan of Shakespeare and 16th and 17th century history since middle school and did some acting at my local Shakespeare theatre company in the States. Even though many of the plays we’re going to be studying, I’ve done a combination of seeing a production (stage, TV or movie), read the script or been in a production of the play myself, I’m still learning how to look at different aspects of the play and do an analysis of it. Last Thursday (5 February) we started studying Much Ado About Nothing. I was in a production of it my junior year of high school, so I went into it with a clear summary and remembered a few lines, but not plot details. What has been interesting about studying the plays in an academic setting (which was not Shakespeare’s intent, he wrote them to be performed), is that I’m learning new ways of looking at the characters Shakespeare populated his plays with and how the characters balance and work off each other when they’re on stage.
I’m a writer, so I tend to think about character dynamics a lot, but I’ve never gotten the opportunity to do it with Shakespeare, even though I’ve been in several productions, read some of them on my own and seen a majority of Shakespeare’s plays in performance. It’s definitely been a good experience being able to look at the character dynamics.
I can’t remember when I started becoming interested in the period of the English Reformation. I do know that my obsession with the Tudor dynasty started with Elizabeth I and Kathryn Lasky’s book Elizabeth I: Red Rose of the House of Tudor, England 1544, which is part of The Royal Diaries series which I loved in middle school and read nearly every one. I think I ended up taking Lasky’s book out of the library about ten times, before I decided to buy on a copy off Amazon. As I grew older, my love of Elizabeth I snowballed into the rest of the Tudor dynasty and from there into the Wars of the Roses, which was ended by Elizabeth I’s grandfather, Henry VII. I’ve also come to understand how Henry VIII was able to cause such religious upheaval in England in the 1530s and 1540s and that knowledge has also spread into knowing about the religious uprisings in France, Switzerland, Germany and the rest of Europe.
Yesterday (9 February), I also turned in my first two papers. I have no idea how hard my professors are with grading or what the grading system in the UK is like, but on some level I’m also excited to see how I did. We’ll have to see on that front.
I think this is going to be a good semester, and I’m excited to continue learning in this environment, and exploring areas in London, England and the rest of Europe.