Thursday, April 15, 2010

Collège de France

The Collège de France used to be the Sorbonne's competitor. It's situated on La Rue Saint Jacques too, next to Louis-le-Grand, across from the beautiful old famous Sorbonne building (by the way, they put a public toilet on this street right in the general area of all these educational facilities - am I the only one who has a problem with that? Victor Hugo went to school at Louis-le-Grand!). But now, it's an independent research and educational facility that offers lectures open to anyone and invites the greatest minds of every field to have a highly coveted Collège de France seat.

According to my Paris 8 history professor, a Paris 8 professor was just recently accepted, and they're all very proud. To me, all my professors at Paris 8 seem very talented and well accomplished. My history Professor, Joel Cornette, is one of the most famous historians in France. He went to ENS, publishes papers and gives talks all the time, and even finished first on the written section of his concours (none of which he will let us forget). He's modest too. My literature professor seems incredibly intelligent, and even though his course could use a little more structuring, what he teaches us is very interesting. And, my writing workshop professor is a published author (she was at Le Salon du Livre from a little bit ago giving a talk). My point of this little aside is that, why are these good teachers wasting away at this mediocre school? They could all get great jobs teaching in the US like Professor Neefs does and still say they're Paris 8 professors without setting foot on that smoky, dirty campus that doesn't have any toilet seats and where the kids regularly steal all the computers.

Back to Collège de France. Last night, I barely got any sleep because I found out that the Collège de France has podcasts and broadcasts their lectures on the internet! It's hard to go to their lectures, because they're at the same time as my other courses, and pretty far away. But, last year, Justine had recommended Antoine Compagnon's lectures on French literature and they're all on iTunes! I've never been so excited. They're all on my iPod ready for me to listen to them in Madrid and Granada starting tomorrow until next Saturday. Anyway, anyone reading this blog who understands French, go to and download! If you don't understand French but are interested in a certain subject, chances are that the Collège de France has a lecture on it and that some information about it is published on that website. That might be a good incentive to learn French, right? It is such a great resource from such a unique institution. They don't offer degrees anymore, don't take students, but only serve to advance knowledge. It's a very noble goal, as far as I'm concerned. I hope I can make it to one of their lectures before I leave, but of course, the second week of my break when I'll be completely free, they won't have any.

So, the last point I want to make in this blog entry: I'll try to update my blog while I'm in Spain, but I can't make any promises. In any case, I'll be back next Saturday with tons of pictures and stories, plus Emma Horvath's first impressions of Paris (she'll be coming back with me).

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