Fall has arrived at Connecticut College, and we've assembled another fantastic blog team to share the student experience with you. Through photography, words and video, our blog team captures classroom discussions, trips around the region, reflections on current events and snapshots of social life on campus. Enjoy!
As an interdisciplinary course, "Introduction to American Studies" is meant to spark discussion about how we mythologize and learn about our nation. Throughout the semester, we have taken time during each class to somehow contemporize our readings, such as the play "Our Town," with current social and political topics in the media. Earlier this semester, Jim Downs, my "Introduction to American Studies" professor, invited Darcie Folsom, director of sexual violence prevention and advocacy, into class to discuss the prevalence of sexual violence in the media. Our discussion focused on the recent case of football star Ray Rice and his wife Janay Palmer.
Prior to Darcie’s visit to the classroom, we had read Clarence Walker’s "Mongrel Nation: The America Begotten by Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings," an analysis of the debate over the affair between Jefferson and Hemings, seeking to uncover the complexity of the relationship. It was really interesting to hear Darcie connect the historical text to a contemporary, relevant social issue. I was so interested in our in-class discussion that I attended a talk outside of class, "Sex and the Founding Fathers," led by Thomas Foster, a professor visiting from another univeristy.
As I reflect upon my semester as a whole, "Introduction to American Studies" has been one of those eye-opening classes that has changed my perspective on topics and has pushed me to become more passionate about my interests.
It seemed as if the show had pushed most students to stay indoors this Saturday afternoon. As I walked around and took a look at what the sky had left over the night, I was struck by the quiet tranquility of the buildings, the trees and the campus as a whole. The sky was still overcast, so, unfortunately, a fog obscured the Long Island Sound, which I could only imagine would have looked so pretty after the recent snow fall. Either way, the campus still held a gentle beauty in face of all the gray skies.
To acknowledge World Aids Day, sections of the AIDS Memorial Quilt came to campus in early December. The quilt was on display for three days in Tansill Theater, our black-box performance space, and students, faculty, staff and members of the community were invited to come in and quietly reflect on those affected by HIV/AIDS.
"Synergy" by Frances Pratt stands tall and strong in the face of storm Juno, or whatever I've noticed people calling it on Facebook. This photo was taken before the full force of the storm presented itself, with classes not yet cancled and people unsure the full extent of what was to come. The peaceful skies began to grow darker and darker and soon the winds picked up aswell. The storm was coming ... You could just feel it!
Today a couple of my friends and I grabbed brunch in Harris and trekked over to Tempel Green, all of us clad in at least three layers of snow pants. We fell back into a fluffy three feet of snow and made snow angels until we were all too cold to move. Afterward, we retreated to a friend's room for hot chocolate, popcorn, and lots of blankets.
I waited till nightfall to really get the full scale of the recent snow storm. There's something about checking out the snow at night that really enhances the scale and makes the white-crusted landscape that much grander. There's something about the darkness and the inability to discern anything more than just a white expanse, tinted gold by the street lights, that really made me think just how much snow fell upon our little Connecticut Campus.
Being from Vermont, I’ve had my fair share of sledding experiences. But sledding today in the Arbo has got to be one of the best. Students from all over campus congregated on the big hill, laughing and sharing the random objects brought for sledding, a variety of accessories that included skis, snowboards, cardboard boxes, trays borrowed from the dining hall and, or course, actual sleds.
We all worked together to pack the feet of powder down into a trail, and then took turns going down, giving each other pushes to gain momentum. People tried all sorts of techniques including standing up on trays and hooking sleds together to form a long train. It was most definitely one of my best Conn College experiences to date.
It’s the snowpacolypse! When leaving my dorm this morning, I was greeted with a wall of snow. Forging our way through in order to get to Harris, my friends and I were delighted in the dramatically changed scenery, so much so that the first thing my friend did was jump into the snow and make a snow angel.
Banks of snow up to my knees are everywhere; haphazard piles and trails wind their way through the campus as we embarked on the cold trek to the dining hall. Classes have been canceled for the day, and I hear the shouts and laughter outside my window as students, reverting into our child-like selves, play in the snow.
My friends and I have signed out our house's sled and later today, we will take to the Arbo, the most popular place for sledding on campus. Sledding down the hill in the Arboretum has been on my Conn Coll bucket list since I arrived in my first year and I just cannot wait. Snow days are the best.
I declared my majors the other week. This is how it happens: You walk into the middle of Tempel Green, spin around in a circle 10 times, shouting your major and adviser while the registrar sits 10 feet away, ringing her bell, asking you to be louder.
The above is decidedly not true. It's just something a professor told me when I came to her with the declaration that I was finally, after months of indecision, declaring two decisive majors. She looked me up and down; I was excited, like I was declaring a big secret. It really is not that big of a deal. She sarcastically joked that I was making a ritual out of it; most students get so stressed about majors, they forget about classes. I agree with her now, I think.
After declaring my majors, I felt no difference. No history or art god descended from the heavens to bless me or take me into their secret society. On paper, I simply declared a major, which did make me feel better. I had goals to work toward.
I think the reason this professor said this to me is because she could see the fear in my eyes. Declaring your major sounds like such a big deal. It seems like you're setting yourself up in life for something so specific. Like now, I can't be anything but a historian, and I'm restricted. All these things are just untrue; I'm still taking classes I want to take, whether they relate to my major or not. I'm working with people I like working with, whether they fall into my department or not. This is what makes a small college like Conn special — because of the high number of professors, you really can, even within the confines of your major, blaze your own trail.
So I went up to Tempel Green, signed my declaration form and spun in a circle anyway, content in the knowledge that I was still free. Majors don't restrict you — fear does.
In my two-dimensional art class, we've been learning how to create drawings that appear more full. A lot of our still life paintings were "floating" in the middle of the page with only a thin table line to spruce up the background. Our professor has been stressing that we should add more to the drawings so that they are more interesting, or draw the things we see behind our still lifes. Despite her gentle nagging, the class as a whole wasn't really getting the concept.
To solve the issue, our professor came up with a creative way to intervene in our bad habits. She took us down to the Lyman Allyn Museum, a fine arts museum adjacent to campus with which the College has a working relationship. First, we did some critiques of the pieces because, as an art class, we can't just ignore the masterpieces when visiting a museum. Then, we were told to pick a spot in the exhibit and draw the space. We weren't supposed to hone in on any artwork, just get the dimensions and perspectives of the complex interior design.
It was frustrating trying to capture the relationship between angles and objects and such, but I found that when I slowed down and really observed my surroundings, it became a lot easier to create a realistic drawing. By the end, I was really happy with what I had created.
Our walking-distance field trip to the museum proved a unique way to improve our work and technique. During the following class, when we were back in the studio, we were given another still life to draw. Again, we were told to pay careful attention to the space around the still life. There was a clear improvement after our museum intervention. We hung all of our drawings up for a critique and each pretty accurately reflected the still life, as well as the room behind the still life.