Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Taking Wonder and Magic to a Collegiate Level

Today I sat down in what I expected would be my least favorite class. I'm an English major, and occasionally I have to deal with Critical Theory. Critical Theory is basically studying the different ways you can critique literature by employing exciting methods such as Marxist theory, Feminist theory, Deconstruction, and more!
I'm kind of pessimistic about Critical Theory, because although it can be very useful in the hands of a reasonable person, it can wreak havoc in the hands of overachieving English majors, like this:

Marxist Criticism - "Have you noticed how this WHOLE BOOK is about how capitalism is the worst!? Gosh, I just HATE capitalism! America totally blows!"

Feminist Criticism - "Have you noticed this WHOLE BOOK treats women like they're just a bunch of dumb broads!? Have you noticed how women's bathroom signs force women to wear dresses... as if I can't wear pants if I want to like a man?! Like maybe you think I'm not as good as a man! Do you even care?!!"

Deconstruction Criticism - "Have you noticed how everything in this book means, like nothing... but like everything too!? It's like the whole word is like... nothing. Wow, like I always thought that might be true, but maybe there is no truth... it's so crazy isn't it?"

All of these things make my brain want to implode, and that is what I expected when I entered my class, since it had been billed as a Critical Theory course.
Little did I know I had actually comitted to 15 weeks of


The syllabus actually labeled it "Ecocriticism, Wonder, and the Spiritual Imagination", but as the discussion continued, I immediately translated our main areas of study to be MAGIC, AWE, AND WONDERMENT! I soon realized this was a class designed to teach me how to take my awe and wonder with nature and magic to a collegiate level. This was helped by the fact that I'm pretty sure this woman is my professor:

Anyway, since I was awed, amazed, and wonderfied during most of our discussion, I imagine this class is doing just what it set out to do, and I figured I would present to you my translation of what I'm pretty sure the syllabus actually meant according to 1. What I heard, and 2. Things she said while commenting on the syllabus. I am keeping as much original material as I can:

ENGLISH 5910 - Fall 2009
Magic, Awe, and General Wonderment!

Professor: [Censored]
Room: TBA
Phone: Sit in the forest, wonder at nature, and call my name with your mind or send me an e-mail. (Use with discretion: PLEASE NOTE: There are many times when i do not check e-mail for a full week (or even more) because I am busy consulting the bones in a canoe somewhere in the wilderness.

If you haven't seen An Inconvenient Truth, it is available at video stores. If you haven't stuck your tongue into Al Gore's mouth, you should drop this class.

You will also need one notebook to use as a secret journal to write down things you think about. No one will ever check it or hold you responsible. It can be the size and style of your choice, including completely invisible to everyone but yourself. I prefer sparkley folders.

Today's writing experiment: List twenty things you "couldn't live without." Then list twenty things you could easily abandon, and twenty things you believe you could leave behind if absolutely necessary. If you can't think of twenty things, do less than that. If you don't want to do this, then okay, because Buddha wouldn't want you to rush it.

Start reading The Miracle of Mindfulness, the first 35 pages are about MAGIC! Start doing some MAGIC! If you don't want to read all of those pages, just read what you want, because Buddha thinks you should work at your own pace.

Rescue a family of Quails

Start being amazed with nature!

The American with Disabilities Act If you have a disability, talk to me after class so I can reassure you that when your feeble body causes you to die an untimely death your body will become the grass, and the antelopes eat the grass, and we eat the antelope.


Other noteworthy things about this class are:

Bridger is in it with me, and can be my witness that this class sounds an awful lot like I have described. He also shared in our "getting-to-know-you" portion of the class that he is really good at basketball.

In our class is a boy who opened his mouth twice, which resulted in:
1. Complimenting a classmate
2. Complimenting our teacher
3. Telling a story about how he is in the process of rescuing a family of Quails
- I cannot wait until I can count on this student to give me compliments.

I am unbelievably excited about this class, and am very relieved that it isn't a standard Critical Theory course.

Final Note: Here is a picture of me rescuing a quail -


Elizabeth said...

This is wonderful. I really enjoyed this. I'm going to examine my own syllabi and see if I can't make them a little more open-minded and accepting.

jaime said...

This sounds like the perfect class for you to use your Schmendrick line. "Take me with you! For Luck! For Laughs! For the Unknown!"

Ps- Is Ron Weasley in your class?? Cause I think he's cute if you could hook that up. I kinda have a thing for gingers.

The B Glad Family said...

As I former English major myself, I had to laugh while reading your explanation of all Critical Theory classes. I too felt the same way, which is why I had to take my final one twice because my first teacher was way too analytical and complicated.

I wish I had the chance to take your critical theory class because it sounds a lot more interesting (read: easy) than mine was.

Good luck!

Scott said...

Craig, you are awesome. The only thing I ever see in my syllabi is "blah blah blah, give me your soul for the next 15 weeks and I might give you an A if you fall somewhere between 92% and Not in your life...blah blah blah"
I wish you would write the syllabi for all of my teachers. First days would be so much more enjoyable.

Jordan said...

I'm tremendously jealous that I am not in this class.

Melissa said...

You've summed up critical theory courses really quite nicely.

I'm anxious to find out (discreetly) who the professor might be. Please keep us updated on this course. This might sound too good to be true--if I weren't already convinced you are telling the absolute truth.

Bridger W. said...

This whole thing was wonderful, but I especially can't get enough of your impeccable photo doctoring skills.

I feel in my heart that this professor is going to be a real miracle.

Nicole said...

Is that really you saving a quail?! In your graduation cap and everything!! You are like the bravest guy I know!! This post made me want to go back to school. But only if I'm in all of your classes.