With the approach of course registration freshman year, the dorms were filled with rumors of no-morning-classes, aka the chance to sleep-in once, maybe twice a week. Sophomore and junior years, it was the elusive hope of having an entire day free of classes—should it bookend the weekend, all the better. Well this year, as a senior, I’ve struck gold with my fall schedule. You see, not only do I have three days of classes, leaving me with a four-day weekend (see Exhibit A):
but, more importantly, I have a really solid group of classes that inspire and challenge me in a number of different ways (see Exhibit B):
Here’s the lowdown on my senior fall semester as a soon-to-be-graduated art history major:
I’ve technically been working on this since junior year, but now it’s finally game time. I’m writing on a contemporary French artist named Pierre Huyghe whose retrospective I saw at the Centre Pompidou while I was still abroad (cue tears and flashback montage). More accurately, I saw his exhibition about six times; I would walk in and hours would pass in the galleries filled with immersive and downright incredible work. My thesis, because yes, you’re all wondering, looks at Huyghe’s video work and placement of masked actors and animals in the exhibition space in order to consider the effect of surrogacy on spectatorship. This semester, my advisor’s guided me through issues of virtuality, phenomenology, posthumanism, etc. and drafts of text have been turned on their heads. It’s been trying to say the least, but I still have this winter and the spring semester to get my thesis in a good place.
Thesis writing now fills most rooms of my house including, but not limited to:
Problems in Theory and Method: Reception, Response, Reflexivity
Chances seemed slim to take an art theory course before graduation, something I really wanted to do, but stars aligned when I saw that one of my favorite professors, Professor Merback, was teaching the course with that crazy long title up above. The only problem was that it was restricted to graduate students. However, following surprisingly little persuasion on my behalf, I was let into the class and have really enjoyed it. The readings are dense and pedantic and troublesome and, some nights, never-ending, but it’s truly all worth it. Plus it’s cool to get lost in the graduate student’s ingenious ramblings and gives me something to aspire to. As a seminar course, the class will result in a seminar paper on an artwork/artist of our choice incorporating the themes of reflexivity and the “beholder’s share” that we’ve been looking at over the past few months. I’m writing my text on another contemporary French artist named Thomas Teurlai and it’s been a great experience thus far.
Curating Material Culture for the Digital Age
The basis for this Museums & Society course was fairly simple: you can learn a lot about a culture through its material culture, the ‘stuff’ they leave behind. What resulted has been an intense foray into Hopkins history as an academic institution through a look into our own collections. Our research contributes to an ongoing digital project called JHU Collections Web (still in beta) that creates connections between all of the disparate ‘stuff’ that Hopkins has accumulated since its founding. Our class has chosen to approach our group of objects in a way that highlights the primacy of discovery at this university and the continuous outward-looking efforts of such endeavors. The class has entailed a lot of research and the writing of interpretive texts, along with labs—yes, labs in the humanities—but I know that the end product will pay off.
‘Bilingualism’ brings back everybody’s favorite game show: Joseph VS. Science! For my last and final distribution requirement (and good riddance), I’m taking a cognitive science course focused on the cognitive processes of bilingual speakers (did that sound smart?). I’ve come to view the class as follows: I really like the lectures. A lot. The concepts are so cool and interesting and, as a self-proclaimed bilingual (*brushes dirt off shoulder; lets it rain, clears it out*), the lessons become more relatable and thus understandable. Also one time we had a lecture about the brain and there were pictures of the insides of brains and I didn’t throw up in class! So that’s all good. But then the tests come, and that’s another story. But overall, I’m really glad I enrolled in this course and encourage my fellow humanities majors to test out different courses for distribution requirements.
So that’s the semester! Hard to believe that there’s only one more of these course wrap-ups to come before graduation—time flies when you’re getting an education. Maybe by then I’ll have learned how to make these posts more concise, but I’m not making any promises.