Monday, May 3, 2010

La fiction et l'histoire littéraire

Today, my courses started again! And yes, I was excited to go. I woke up early, took the RER C to Saint-Michel, headed by Notre-Dame, La Fontaine Saint Michel, between La Sorbonne and Le Lycée Louis-le-Grand, turned at the Panthéon, and arrived at l'Ecole Normale Supérieure for my class! While I was walking in, I bumped into Lu and even made my "salut Lu" joke, which apparently no one finds funny but me. In class, we talked about the relationship between fiction and literary history and how the one affects the other. We ended by discussing the four major phases of modern fiction (by modern, he meant since the advent of Romanticism): a Balzac phase that redefined Romanticism (and erased Chateaubriand), the "library phase" of Flaubert, the avant-garde movement, and finally metafiction! It was an incredibly interesting lecture for me after all of my fiction classes at Hopkins.

Oh, when I say we "discussed" or "talked about," I want to be clear - I really mean we all took notes while M. Murat (Mlle Macé wasn't there today) read from his 30 pages of typed, single spaced, notes clearly organized into a very in-depth dissertation format. Yes, it was a great class! While I do love the conference atmosphere of Hopkins classes (besides the math ones, of course), I do think that the French students have something here about learning from the professor. As students, we should be in classes to learn from the professors. They aren't there to learn from us, so what made the classes in the US into what they are now? We can learn from the other students outside of class, but it wastes time when we do that in the classroom. Discussions are fun, and can sometimes be productive, but to me, they're a little too new and sort of experimental to me. For writing seminars, which is a pretty experimental major, the new conference idea works well, I think - but not with other courses. I wonder if the graduate level French class I'll be taking with M. Neefs at Hopkins next year will be like this ENS one - one two hour lecture a week and just a 15-20 page single spaced research paper at the end.

After my class, I had a two hour flute lesson! Even playing for two hours straight, M. Pelat still kept me an extra twenty minutes. I love my lessons. We recently realized that the reason he keeps thinking I'm always just a tiny bit out of tune is because in the US, we tune to A 440, but in France, they tune to A 442. He's also been trying to get me to play high E with the pinky even though I've always done it without it because that's what I was taught. That and other boring exercises to make my tone more precise and improve my dynamic control, but I won't go into that on this blog because it's kind of late and also because it would probably be boring.

Anyway, other than that, my day wasn't exciting blog-material. M. De La Taille left for the country again. Apparently, he doesn't like living in the city and is tired. So, it was just Mme, Pierre, and me. Afterward dinner and the news, we started watching a movie about some guy who couldn't get a wife and ended up shooting some girl and then himself in the head, went to a mental institution, and that's where I decided that enough is enough. It was trop bizarre - what is with French movies?

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