Class Schedule | Fall 2016

class schedule

In case you didn’t know, I am a grad student. I started working on my Master’s in Emerging Media and Communication (EMAC) at the University of Texas at Dallas last year right after completing my B.A. in English. I did not know quite what I was getting myself into, but I’ve been happy with my choice ever since. I’m learning a lot that I think will help me in my professional and personal life.

The EMAC M.A. program is relatively short, with only 33 credits required to graduate. After some deliberation back and forth, I’ve decided to graduate next spring, so this will be my final academic year at UT Dallas.

I’ve taken some really interesting courses so far in my studies, but I think this fall semester might be my most mixed assortment yet as I finish up the last of my required courses. Just so you know what I’ll be studying this fall, I thought I’d blurb the three courses I’ve decided on taking. I’m actually pretty happy with this final selection and think I will be exposed to a lot of different things, which is always exciting.

Social Science Perspectives of Emerging Media & Communication (3 cr.)

This is my last required course specific to my program and I think it will be about research methodologies that I will need know to do well on my Capstone, and my PhD beyond. I wish I had been able to take it last fall, but I think this has turned out for the best as this class is more specifically tailored towards humanities related to media studies than it was last fall when it was too full for me to take. I think it’s worked out for the best for me, all things considered.

Introduction to Film Studies (3 cr.)

I could take this class or two others that are offered more infrequently to meet this specific program requirement, so I’ve decided to just get it out of the way this semester with film studies. I’ve heard this is a relatively easy class, but I don’t know if I trust the guy who told me that (because it sounded like it was “easy” because he was slacking & there’s no way to know what he got at the end). I’m just trying to be optimistic that I will be exposed to some amazing films I’ve never seen before and probably never would see outside this class if I wasn’t forced.

German Literature & Ideas 1870–1960 (3 cr.)

I am allowed one free elective in my program and I’ve decided to use it this penultimate semester on this German literature class. I’ve always been really fascinated by German-Austrian history and culture but never had a chance to read much of the defining literature coming from it. So I think this class will be really interesting, especially as the syllabus shows the instructor will be contextualizing the time in relation the Holocaust. My biggest reason for choosing this class is that it will influence by own writing, as a lot of my stories are set in worlds based on the countries of continental Europe.

End Note

Over the course of the semester, you might here a little about more exciting assignments or projects I have to complete for these classes, but probably not much more than that. I still intend to be reading and writing whenever I can, and blogging about it too!

My classes start August 22nd and pretty much span the entire week. This will also be my first semester as a teaching assistant (TA), so I have no idea what that schedule will be looking like just yet. I begin my first TA orientation (of several apparently) the day this post is scheduled to go live, so I might know sooner rather than later about how much free time I’ll really have!

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Sunday Snapshot #1 (Valentine’s Day)

Instead of doing a Week in Rewind this week, I wanted to shorter, less formal post in which I muse about life. I’ll call this new series Sunday Snapshot. It’s funny that this Sunday happens to be Valentine’s Day. I’ve never had a special person in my life during on Valentine’s Day, but it’s never been a day that I’ve dreaded or resented. It’s always just been a very peaceful and reflective day for me.

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This Valentine’s Day happens to be the anniversary of the first time I read The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton. This book was a very quick read and it was one that has stuck with me since I first experienced it. It focuses on three generations of women who have had tragic romances with men but have continued to live on. I found this book really personally inspiring to live without fear of loss.

I think a common narrative most people strive for in their lives is to find a significant other so their lives can truly begin. But I’ve never felt comfortable in my young adult with the idea that my life and happiness could be dependent on someone else. I honestly think I’d just be happy if I could get to point in my life where I can support myself and be able to provide a good home for a dog of my very own. (Right now my dream is to adopt a rescued Greyhound. Don’t ask. Couldn’t tell ya.)

This Valentine’s Day will be my first spent in Texas since high school. For the past four years, I had lived in Iowa while I worked on my undergraduate degree at Iowa State University. It is a beautiful campus on which I felt very safe and miss it tremendously. After six months of living in Dallas, I know I’m done with Texas and want to live up north again. Perhaps not in Iowa, but somewhere where I can experience a fuller range of the seasons and not need to rely so much on driving a car.

I’m really happy with where I’ve ended up at this time in my life, all things considering. I feel like I did not know fully what I was getting into when I applied to the Emerging Media and Communication (EMAC) graduate program, but I’m so happy with what it’s turned out to be. I’ve learned so much in just the few months I’ve been in this program and have been made to think so much about the implications of living in today’s digital culture. I’m perpetually feeling inspired to inquire more into topics introduced in my classes and never quite feel like there’s enough time to do all the things I wish I could. It’s a really exciting time in my life right now.

Most significantly for me, in the past couple of weeks I have begun to think seriously about applying to a PhD program next year after I complete my MA. I’d never thought I’d want to do such a thing. I feel like it was never in the realm of possibility for me. Neither of my parents really went to college and I feel like their expectation was for me to get my BA and start working right away. It certainly would have been the safe thing to do. But boring as well. I’ve never quite felt like I was cut out for a regular life. And now I’ve become much more comfortable with not settling for anything less than what I think would really make me happy.

It will be interesting to see where my life takes me over the course of the next year. I’d like to think that by next Valentine’s Day I’ll know where I’ll be going next in my studies and professional life, but that might be hoping for too much. So much can change in a single year. All I know is that I have a lot of work to do right now, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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First Week of the Spring 2016 Semester.

First Week of Class

It is Friday as I write this post and it has been a long, weird week. On Sunday and Thursday, the world lost David Bowie and Alan Rickman respectively, both 69 years of age and both to cancer. Weird, sad coincidence. In addition, this was the first week I had back to school. I am taking three classes this semester, all of which run from 7–10 p.m. So this week has consisted of me trying to get used to this weird schedule.

If there’s one thing I can predict about this semester, it’s that I will be very busy. All my classes appear to be pretty demanding in terms of reading. The class I decided to take as an elective (Creating Interactive Media) actually seems like it might be the most difficult of them all, which is a major bummer because I was lukewarm about it to begin with. I’d like to talk about these classes in more depth, but to be completely honest I’m still not 100% sure what they’re all about. My favorite so far seems like it will be my Monday class: Digital Textuality.

I’m hoping to stay on top everything this semester, so that I can read and blog without guilt or stress! I already have a substantial amount of homework to get done and I’m hoping I stick to the reading schedule I’ve designed for myself and it works out. After all, I still have other things I want to do!

Textbooks

This semester, I only had to buy three books. But two of the (most expensive) books are for my elective class (Creating Interactive Media) which is a class I have a feeling I will either end up loving or hating. Earlier today I placed an order on Amazon for the books I will need this semester, including:

Understanding-Comics-Scott-McCloud           about_face_the_essentials_of_interaction_design-alan_cooper-25327055-3770658108-frntl          large_9781592537563

Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art by Scott McCloud.

This book is for my Digital Textuality class. The big project for the semester is a portfolio in which we select a story and translate it into four different modes: text, image, video, and sound. So I guess this Understanding Comics book is to get us to think about how the images/text of comics work in a way that will help us think about different modes.

About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design by Alan Cooper.

Since I don’t know exactly the point of this class or what we’re supposed to be doing, I have no expectations about this book. Hopefully it will end up useful in the future.

Universal Methods of Design by Bruce Hanington.

I have a feeling this book will be more important for the class because the instructor emphasized it in our first meeting this week. Since I’ve never taken a hardcore design class before, I have no background knowledge helping me form expectations about research in design beyond what little I picked up from my technical communication classes last year during my undergraduate studies at ISU.

future purchases…

Last summer I applied for the Amazon Credit Card because it seemed like a smart thing to do given that I shop on Amazon so much throughout the year and using it to buy things I’d buy anyway I could save up points to use towards Amazon purchases. Anyway, I have about $22 worth of points saved up that I almost used, but I’ve decided to save it for my birthday coming up in February.

I’ve not bought physical books in such a long time, since early October and, although I don’t need to, I’d like to treat myself soon! I already know what I think I’d like to buy: The Winner’s Curse and The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkowski in hardback. After the cover change scare that rankled the book blogging community a couple of weeks ago, I was so glad I hadn’t invested in the paperbacks (the way I normally do). And although I have my issues with these books, in particular the first one, I think the covers are gorgeous and I want them purely for vanity reasons!

Reading Update

Last weekend I ended up finishing two books! I didn’t read much over the break, so I’m really happy to have finally read and get this new year off to a good start. First, I finished Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton, a book I had started on New Year’s Eve I think. It was a pleasant read (★★★). It was very much reminiscent of Pride and Prejudice and that regency time period and had a very unique world (filled with civilized dragons). I only found it a little slow because of the way it was written. Also it ended all a little too conveniently for me.

Then I read An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir, which I picked up from the library last Friday along with a few other books. I had actually read the first couple of chapters before leaving for Christmas break, but hadn’t had enough time to finish it. It was beautifully written but poorly plotted (in my opinion). I had several issues with it, leading to merely a ★★★-rating. 

I struggled deciding what I wanted to read next after two unique fantasy novels. So I randomly decided my next read will be Bone Gap by Laura Ruby. I think it will be a contemporary novel with some magical realism to it. I like magical realism so hopefully this is a pleasant read. My friend Ely from Tea & Titles enjoyed it so that’s a good recommendation!

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