This week was long and draining. Traffic seemed much worse this week, which didn’t help at all. I’m still adjusting to the routine so I feel a little unorganized and behind already. That’s one of the drawbacks of the quarter system for me: it takes a couple of weeks to find a rhythm, and by then the quarter is 20% over. It’s really easy to fall behind.
Anyway, as usual, I really enjoyed the Historiography class this week. (I’m going to avoid using professor’s names to be on the safe side). We read one of my very favorite plays by Suzan-Lori Parks, The America Play. I had read it before and there was a production of it at CSULA so I was already familiar with it. However, reading it again I see more how it is a lesson in how history is just a construct. Actually, there are so many stories and memories out there that there isn’t just one way to look at an event. As Gertrude Stein said: There is no there there. Which reminds me of my own experience of September 11th. New Yorkers experienced that day in their own ways; it’s not either you were there or you weren’t. We also read a chapter in a book written by Joe Roach called “Carnival and the Law.” This fascinating article draws a connection between the white upper class in New Orleans who used Mardi Gras in the mid-nineteenth century to advance white supremacy and the racist laws that stymied Reconstruction in the south.
The Globalization and Performance class was not as bad as the first meeting but not that great either. I think the articles we read are fascinating and I think they will be valuable resources in the future, as will the professor, but the actual class time: not so much. However, the professor told us that her mother is gravely ill in Argentina so I’ve no doubt that is why she is not in top form for us. I’m not going to go into any detail about the articles we read (there were five of them), but one we read made quite an impact on me. Basically, the author drew connections between various events and US policy to lay out exactly how (and why) the US has become an Empire. I knew this was true—but the exact how and why was fuzzy for me. This article made everything crystal clear (and was really depressing, too). Oh, and during class on Wednesday I realized what part of the problem with the class was: all of our conversations are very abstract because we’re not using any performances as a way to talk about (and theorize with/against) the articles.
I stuck around after class on Wednesday with my classmate, and new friend, Kate, to see a performance at UCLAlive by a Polish theatre company named Song of the Goat. Their production, Lamentations, was interesting. The actors’ performances were amazing but the show itself—I’m still not so sure about. Fortunately, it was only forty minutes long! Oh, and I learned the hard way about student tickets. I assumed that as a UCLA student that I could buy a ticket at the student rate. Not true. They only have a certain number of tickets they sell at the student rate. Isn’t that ridiculous? I’ll have to be more prepared next year.
And then we had Grad Forum on Thursday and I came out of that feeling exhausted as well. We had one of the fourth year doctoral candidates come in to talk to us about what we will have to encounter/overcome the next four years:
**Complete 12 seminars the first two years (that’s two each quarter)
**Pass the oral exam the end of the second quarter of the first year (that’s about mid-March 2006 for me)
**Show proficiency in a language other than English (the sooner the better, but no later than the third year qualifying exams)
**Write a prospectus of the dissertation topic due the end of the fall quarter of the third year
**Take the written qualifying exams (over the course of three days) during the winter quarter of the third year
**Take Oral Exams after passing the qualifying exams
**Write the dissertation after completing all of the above and passing to candidacy
Of course, this does not include being Sue-Ellen’s research assistant during the winter quarter of my first year and then becoming a TA with my own sections the second, third and fourth years. And this is why this quarter is my “easy quarter.” I know I can do all of this but it’s exhausting and scary looking at the list. My one huge obstacle is language: I suck at languages so it’s going to be a huge challenge for me. Keep your fingers crossed.
And then finally, I spent most of the day at school on Friday attending the lectures of some visiting performance scholars. Joe Roach (who I just read for historiography) gave a great talk on culture and globalization. Allan Kuharski gave an interesting talk on Polish Theatre. He gave some context to both the production on saw Wednesday night and to the Wooster Group’s production Poor Theatre that I saw last year at REDCAT.
In other news…
We went to Reverend Denise’s ordination last night. It was interesting and sweet and was absolutely a performance. Maybe I will write a paper about it…
I’ve registered to run a 5K race on December 18th. Yes, you read that right. I’ve just completed my third week of a program called learn to run 10K, which is designed to get you ready for a 10K at the end of thirteen weeks. However, the end of thirteen weeks is Christmas and there aren’t so many races then. So I decided to try for a 5K race at during my twelfth week. So far it’s going well. I’m doing three sessions a week—alternating walking and jogging. And I’m jogging really slowly. Really really slowly. This is to keep my heart rate down and to avoid injury as well. If you’re interested, you can click on the link to the website on the sidebar on the right.
Wish me luck because I don’t think I can do it!