But what are you really up to?

The “What are you up to this semester?” question often prompts true but generic answers. If my grandmother asks, my response might go something like, “I’m enjoying my junior year and taking a lot of English.” To a Swarthmore peer, I might say, “My Victorian Lit seminar is great, though a ton of work. I’m also taking Modern Philosophy and another English course on modernism. Oh, and I’m still tour-guiding and applying for summer grants.”

These answers are informative, but vague. In an attempt to capture my day-to-day, I’ve decided to list a few of the smaller things that define my Swarthmore waking-hours:

1. I’ve volunteered for a senior’s psychology thesis. Periodically, I receive surveys by email and get candy bars in my mailbox as a small thank-you. I know it sounds silly, but I like taking surveys. Because the Psych Department has such an emphasis on student-led research, there are always opportunities to sign up for studies.

2. I’ve been interviewing some alums from the class of ’83 for a website article on their volunteer trip to Haiti. Four of them were roommates and are now all doctors; they reunited after 30 years while providing their medical expertise after the Haitian earthquake. It’s a nice story.

3. I’m archiving my notes for Victorian Lit. Our seminar is focused on establishing more of a web presence to do our small part in what has come to be known as the “digital humanities.” That means I scan and upload my various notes/doodles/moments of inspiration to our class blog.

4. Paging through Ulysses. Yup, my modernism class is reading James Joyce. Joyce is great, but he can give you a headache….

5. I’m filming Daily Gazette “Quips and Quarrels” political videos with a fellow columnist to increase our newspaper’s multimedia web presence and participate in broad political conversation.

6. I’m organizing my notes on Robert Nisbet. I recently spoke on an academic panel regarding Nisbet’s 1953 Quest for Community, and I’d like to write about Nisbet more in the future.

7. I’m watching HBO’s The Wire. I know I’m a little late to the game, but it’s such a great form of procrastination  Plus, I justify my vice my arguing it’s a TV show with some profound literary implications.

8. I’m planning a Whit Stillman movie-viewing. Stillman is a quirky, under-appreciated director of flicks like Metropolitan and Last Days at the Disco. I’m trying to reclaim his reputation.

9. Sharing my coffee maker. Self-explanatory.

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Categories: Swarthmore students | 1 Comment

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One thought on “But what are you really up to?

  1. Ms. Charette: I am president of the Pennsylvania division of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) and I would be most appreciative if you could get in touch with me regarding the incident about which you wrote in the Wall St. Journal. The AAUP is the oldest and largest organization designed to protect free speech on campus (98 years of history) and it would seem that we particularly have an interest in what happened at that meeting and similar meeting. Thank you, Tim H. Blessing, Ph.D.

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