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About Me:

My name is Olivia and I am a senior at Butler University. I spend most of my time in Lilly Hall as a BFA Dance Performance major. When not in rehearsal or ballet class, I write papers for my English Literature second major. In my super-abundant, never-lacking, this-is-highly-sarcastic spare time, I attempt to cook in my apartment kitchen, watch Youtube videos of ballet, knit sweaters that never seem to come to an end, and read books both silly and serious. If I could take any class at Butler just for kicks, I'd go for DiffyQ.

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Posts Tagged “English major”

When Not Writing Papers

You might notice I have quite a few posts have the tag “papers” attached. I’m taking a break from the latest one to write this blog post. That’s called procrastination, and college teaches young adults to do this with gusto.

Anyway, I do more than just write papers (and dance). I’m typing this in part to convince myself. After BSI ended, I started an independent study with an English professor that will let me finish my second major without staying longer than eight semesters or going over credit hours (like last semester). But I don’t write papers all the time. I don’t. Instead I:

  • Play card games, mahjong games, and Bananagrams with my family. Sometimes at the pool.
  • Swim a bunch of laps after being lazy for a while. Usually at the pool.
  • Dance. Sometimes in the pool.
  • Get all worked up and sucked into media frenzies. (Like with the debt ceiling, which in retrospect looks more like drama and less like crisis.) (Still, I want a job.) (Seriously, is anyone hiring?)
  • Play the piano.
  • Read easy-to-understand magazines — NOT scholarly articles. (Though I did love Hildegard Tristram’s “Near-Sameness in Early Insular Metrics.” It contained Welsh mutations as a matter of obvious fact. I swooned in a completely geeked-out fashion.)
  • Restart my duties as president of the Butler Catholic Community. New students — look for us at Block Party, which is a huge conglomeration of tables where every club imaginable tries to trade your email address for free gear!

I’ve been working, in one way or another, all summer, so it’s hard to believe I’ll be back at Butler in three short weeks. Classes start Wednesday, August 24 — I’ll see you there! If you should happen to find me in the midst of festivities, please don’t hesitate to ask questions about any and everything Butler/college/ballet/English/knitting/Welsh/rabbits/cooking failures/etc!

I took this with my point-and-shoot. This should give some indication of the beauty of Butler's campus in the fall.

The above photo should also be rather large, if anyone has been looking for Butler-themed images to use as wallpaper for a computer screen. I can share. Just click on the picture for a larger size.

Words so many words aaah

After pasting the text of my BSI paper into the handy app at Wordle, I got a picture featuring a word cloud of the most-used words in my paper. It looks a little something like this:

While writing this, I kept entertaining the thought that I was actually composing two separate papers. I have one section about Thomas and Joyce’s reaction to religious and pagan models of the bard, and I have another about their interactions with the Welsh and Irish languages in their stories. When I received the comments on my first full draft from my advisor, she also noticed the break.

It is too late to split the papers in two now, since I’m giving a presentation for the BSI students, mentors, and some other people on Monday. This will be a more informal presentation in that I am not reading my paper/papers, so whether or not I have one or two papers doesn’t matter so much.

Still, it’s funny the way things work out. I’ve written loads of 5-12 page papers, but only a few longer ones, and there is definitely a learning curve. Organization becomes my main battle once the paper passes about sixteen pages, and the one I have for BSI currently clocks in at twenty-seven. (Which means the last few pages are an organizational nightmare.)

Ah well, one can’t expect to grasp every skill at first (or even fourth) try.

If only…

magicmagic();

Snapshot: Central Library

Here are some as-yet-unshared pictures from my visit to the Central Library in Indianapolis. Aka, the Library of Dreams and Wonder.

I love to read. If my blog archives had not been cruelly ravaged/deleted (still in mourning), I would direct you to the approximately twenty books I reviewed at the end of last summer. This year has hit me particularly hard with reading for classes, so I haven’t had so much time for fun books.

I blame physics class, my long Irish literature paper, and the spring’s twenty-two credits hours and the nine credits of English class included in that count. I blame Emily Dickinson and the Romantic poets and Herman Melville and the giant Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Criticism and Theory I read at night and over breakfasts.

Not that literary theory isn’t fun. I love throwing around words/phrases like “hermeneutical,” “accomplished nihilist,” and “always already.” It just tends to take me a good hour or so of research to understand the basic outline of the concepts used to describe lit theory. I love the wacked-out, odd-ball things text does. I don’t so much love the headache of arriving at that conclusion. (Well, sometimes. If I understand the process, it’s wonderful.)

As I read more and more, the process becomes easier. That is to say, I don’t have to stop and decipher all those “hermeneutical,” “binary opposition,” “signifier,” and “de Manian” references.

Still, I miss quick jaunts in and out of BookWorld à la Fforde (finished One of Our Thursday is Missing–very good, not his best work, but I still read into the night to finish it). During the year, I managed to make time for a visit to Indianapolis’ huge-normous Central Library. Consider proximity to the Library of Dreams and Wonder one of the perks of attending Butler University. Pictures, commence:

The main lobby/atrium

It's HUGE!

Chilling in the sweet chairs in the kids' section.

URC continued

Things I liked about the Undergraduate Research Conference this year:

- I got yogurt and hot chocolate in the morning while listening to the Provost welcome everyone.

- As much of a pain as it was to shorten my twenty-four page paper to six pages/twelve minutes, I tightened my argument. When I revise the long version to turn in as my senior English essay for my secondary English major, I’ll keep some of the changes I made. The new key point? Martha C. Nussbaum’s version of Stoic cosmopolitanism uses hierarchy in include, not to exclude. Earlier, I implied all hierarchy produced negative results. Wrong!

- I got to hear an English major’s presentation on the gods of Paradise Lost and the Aeneid. When I wrote my BSI proposal, I worked heavily from the example on the website–which was the genesis of this very project. I was interested to see what a BSI project’s URC presentation looked like and what the student actually concluded after conducting his research. It was neat to see the very first and very last steps of a research project.

Hey there, Aeneas.

- I got a free boxed lunch. It was a Friday in Lent, so I opted for a grilled veggie sandwich… which was rather odd. The veggies, a very thin layer of lettuce and what might have been squash, were oddly saturated with oil from the bread or something else very strange that I cannot put into words. The orzo was pretty good though, as was the super-tart green apple.

- Whenever someone on our panel took a sip of water, we all smiled at each other. Our faculty sponsor had given us “water training” during our mock-conference at the end of the class. After we make important points or finish a particularly weighty paragraph, we are supposed to take a sip of water to allow the audience to process the information. Good advice, but I still felt a bit silly sipping my water when I wasn’t even thirsty.

- I got to hear the other panelists’ perspectives on Irish national identity, obviously. Our discussion at the end as a group, as we answered questions and referred to each other’s papers and texts for verification, was really neat. I felt like I was part of a scholarly community.

I normally associate scholarship with writing–natural enough, for one who likes literary research and analysis. Participating in an oral forum with an audience watching as we bounced ideas off one another was new and exciting. That’s what URC is all about, right?

My primary text

The VCU Problem

So Butler is playing Virginia Commonwealth University this Friday… The problem? Both my parents attended VCU. I live in Richmond. Let’s say my family’s a little conflicted right now. I, however, have no qualms whatsoever about cheering only, solely, and wholeheartedly for the bulldogs.

Example of Butler school spirit, advising appointment, 9 am:

Me: I can take a summer class to finish off my English major.

Advisor: Where are you taking it?

Me: VCU has a three week session between the end of BSI and the beginning of Butler’s fall semester. [Note: Actually, this fell through, but I should be doing other interesting things to finish off my major instead.]

Advisor: Oh, you really want to take classes there? VCU? We’re playing them.

[pause]

Me (thinking to self): I wonder if the credits would transfer if we lost…. I wonder if VCU will accept me after we win.

Oh, conflict. But me, I’m bulldogs all the way! GO BU!

Readings

Do you ever get stuck in a scholarly rut? Perhaps “rut” is not the best word. Maybe “track” or “idea” is better. Ever since I finished my long paper on national identity in Brian Friel’s play Translations, I have viewed all my classroom texts through a quasi-deconstructionist lens.

As far as producing interesting readings goes, this has proven quite fruitful. I’ve taken Wordsworth to task for finding authenticity in common language, seen Meville’s ocean as a space of textual ambiguity, and found Emily Dickinson to exhibit postmodern tendencies. Can you tell I’ve just come from a meeting with a professor about a paper?

Intense gaze. You know this guy's serious.

I’m happy to splash around in the postmodern waters for a bit, but I don’t think I want to stay forever. Judging from past experiences, I know some other concept will catch my interest. It happened with mythology, pseudo-astrophysics, real physics physics, the Welsh language, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the Rose Adagio, creative writing, knitting… All past obsessions of mine. All still hold a special place in my heart.

However, this whole text-is-dependent-on-the-reader and words-change-significance-with-every-meaning so-many-hyphens phase represents the first conceptual idea I apply to such a wide range of classes, be it an English class or a dance history class, choreography or technique.

Do you ever feel like you really take an intellectual idea to heart for an extended time? Do you ever feel like you might be growing steadily more obnoxious every day?

Also, has anyone read any criticisms that place Emily Dickinson as a postmodern poet?

Pre-Spring Break

The week before spring break? Not so relaxing. I lucked out in that I don’t have any midterms due this week, like many other college students. I even discovered many of my projects will be due after spring break. While I want to get most of that done before break starts so I can enjoy being home with my family, it takes the pressure off this week.

What’s going on:

  • Sleeping Beauty rehearsals
  • Mardi Gras party at the Blue House with the Butler Catholic Community. There’s a great Cajun Creole restaurant nearby called YATS. I ate a lot of YATS last night. Then I did homework.
  • Paper on Hawthorne’s The House of the Seven Gables due today (Wednesday). I’m still finishing the reading on Emerson.
  • The usual two-paper analysis for my Romanticism class tomorrow on William Blake’s “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.” I got a bit worked up during the discussion on Tuesday, and I hope I’ll be more coherent tomorrow.
  • I’m working on a 10-page Emily Dickinson paper for the EN 185 class that’s due after/during break. (Don’t worry, would-be English majors! I’m the TA; You don’t need this paper for your normal Intro to the Discipline of English class. Everyone else will write a three page response to a poem.)
  • I have a choreography solo, a dance history paper, and a dance history midterm the week we return.

Even though I do not have too much due this week, I need to start my other projects so Spring Break will be somewhat relaxing. Does anyone else end up with homework-heavy vacations?

Midwinter schedule

Why have I not blogged in about a week? Midwinter Dance Festival! You are coming, correct? Here is Midwinter production week in list form:

Monday:

  • Meet with the head of Butler’s English department
  • Help load-in at Clowes Memorial Hall
  • Rejoice because the previous class finished installing the floor already
  • Take ballet class
  • Rehearse Walpurgisnacht in the studio
  • Work on choreography homework
  • Do other assorted homework/make pasta with butternut squash bits in it
  • Sleep

Tuesday

  • EN 185 class: discuss the poems of Visiting Writers Series guest Mark Halliday
  • EN 366: discuss the poems of John Clare
  • Take ballet class
  • Rehearse Walpurgisnacht in the studio
  • Do choreography homework
  • Help a student from EN 185 with her paper
  • Dinner, homework, sleep

To be continued…

Interested in the Vivian S. Delbrook Visiting Writers Series? Take a gander at a poetry reading I attended last semester:

YouTube Preview Image

Butler Summer Institute

Quite a while back, at the beginning of fall semester, I met with my Irish Lit professor to discuss topics for the long paper I was going to write. I initially suggested a comparison of Dylan Thomas’ Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog and James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Both works are written in English by authors who have strong ties to particular nations that have their own languages: Thomas is Welsh and Joyce is Irish.

Here are the two texts I want to compare. Both narrators also write in English, since the works are semi-autobiographical. I want to examine the presentation of the Welsh and Irish languages in the two works and connect this presentation to the authors’ English-language writing. I hope to argue that Thomas and Joyce continue to participate in the Celtic literary heritage–especially as modern bards–though they write in English.

The class for which I first proposed this project was Contemporary Irish Literature, but I really am interested in Ireland’s neighbor across the Irish Sea–Wales. I’ve been learning Welsh on my own since I was a senior in high school. Dw i ddim yn gallu saraid Cymraeg, ond dw i’n mynd trio wneud e!

My professor liked my idea, but neither Young Dog nor Young Man was on the reading list for the class. She suggested that I apply to Butler Summer Institute. I then wrote my long essay on the subjectivity of national identity and the conflicting sources of such that lead to nationalist-inspired violence in Brian Friel’s play Translations. Now it’s February, and I’m ready to turn in my proposal for the Young Dog/Young Man project.

Butler Summer Institute is a nine-week session during the summer that allows students to pursue independent research projects with a faculty mentor. I think two-thirds of the projects are from the sciences–something about the way the program is funded–but scholars from all disciplines are welcome. This type of project is extremely attractive for several reasons:

  • I can research whatever truly interests me without worrying about fitting it into a class syllabus. Comparative literary studies!! WALES!! WELSH!!
  • I can work closely with my Irish Lit professor. She’s the perfect mentor for a project like this: Her specialties include transnational literature and multilingual texts, postcolonial studies, and comparative literature.
  • I’ll produce a longer writing sample–something I’ll need should I apply to graduate school after what I hope is a career in a dance company.
  • On that note, I’ll practice writing a literary analysis longer than twenty-four pages.
  • I get to do the comparative literature thing.
  • I can surrender to my total love of all things Welsh. During the research for the partial bibliography I’m including in my application, I kept getting distracted: I just had to read part of “The Social Identity of Welsh Learners,” even though it will not be included in my final project. Oooo, the other one I had tremendous difficulty putting down was “Near-Sameness in Early Insular Metrics: Oral Ancestry and Aesthetic Potential.” This article WILL figure into my final project. So excited. (Early Insular Metrics = early poetry of the Insular Celtic languages, which include Welsh and Irish Gaelic).
  • I’ll receive free housing for the duration of the session, plus a stipend. This will definitely help defray the cost of summer school–and the cost of not being able to hold a job during the summer.

I’m nervous about this mainly because I do not know whether my application will be rejected because I have to take a course during the last three weeks of the BSI session if I am to get my secondary English major. Well, we shall see. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Balanchine all week long

I do love me a Balanchine ballet. I performed in Serenade with the Richmond Ballet trainee program when I was a senior in high school. When I was a college freshman, the upperclassmen performed it at Butler. I was so jealous, since dancing in Serenade had been one of the defining moments of my performing life.

Now I am rehearsing Balanchine’s Walpurgisnacht, a slightly more obscure ballet requiring twenty-five dancers (twenty-four of them women). Last week was the first week of classes, and it was definitely a tornado-on-the-rampage sort of week. Learning choreography requires (for me) a particular sort of mental concentration and physical exertion different from rehearsal of previously learnt material.

I described my first day back for the spring semester in the last few posts. Wednesday was day number two, and it saw another few hours of rehearsal after classes. I have a night class which meets Wednesdays on the literature of the American Renaissance (EN 341). Reading, reading, reading. We’ll tackle Moby Dick in three class periods.

On Thursday, there was the Intro to the Discipline of English class again (I rotated groups in true TA-style) and Romanticism (I still have neutral feelings on the class). Then ballet, then pointe, then… no rehearsal. Ms. Wingert worked with some of the other groups. I did homework like a fiend.

Friday was much the same: Dance history, our first choreography II class, ballet, and rehearsal until five o’clock. We finished learning Walpurgisnacht. The final section Ms. Wingert called “Fire in the Beauty Parlor” since we run around with our hair down. It’s great fun. I really enjoy moving in that particularly expansive, Balanchine way.

Saturday was more rehearsal; Sunday was more rehearsal. We don’t normally rehearse on Sundays, but I understand that we had to make the best use of our time with Ms. Wingert before she flew back to New York. I loved working with her, and I appreciate the opportunity to perform Balanchine choreography, since companies must apply to the Trust to license each ballet. But boy, are my toes sore today!

I hope this also explains the rather pathetic lack of photos in my blog. I have not had time to take new ones, so I’ve been using old ones I saved for this sort of situation… except sometimes they don’t quite match. Like today’s:

This is the HRC, the Health and Recreation Complex. I used the hot tub and pool to great advantage this past week. However, the lawn is currently covered in snow, not sitting all nice and green like it was when I took this picture.