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lewilliams's picture

 On the subject of why

 On the subject of why Siri Hustvedt:

The Sorrows of an American discusses "the merging" that Whitman describes but, as someone in my small session  pointed out, Hustvedt's merging isn't quite the same. Rather than Whitman's full-bodied loving embrace, Hustvedt's merging is a description of the lonliness in different people coming together. Of course, the search for answers and meaning as well as the attention to the unconscience are important themes in the book relative to the class as well. I feel that the book is definitley well-picked for the class for these reasons as well as others.

I think that the story being "an imigrant's story" might be important to Hustvedt in this merging and diverging way. When an imigrant enters into a new society, he/she both merges with the new society and becomes seperate from it because of the difference he/she is bringing with them.

I have to admit that I'm not quite on the same page with people who enjoy reading Hustvedt over reading Whitman, however. Where Whitman's writing seemed to be constantly in excess, Hustvedt seemed somewhat dry. I'm not the biggest fan of either, but I seem to favor the excess. 


On a new type of class:

  I can think of a few classes at Bryn Mawr that cross divisions: this class, Conceptual Physics, and Poetry in Landscape. Interestingly enough, they were probably all based on a CSEM.

I'm not sure what the New Class would be. I feel that with a liberal arts education all of us are getting the breadth we need. We may be taking linear tracks, but we have other requirements that help us to make our own personal connections between the courses. The connections that we make on our own are part of what makes every student different. We choose classes that fit our own needs and make them work for us. This is the was we evolve from our classes.

The problem with creating a class about cultural evolution is that there is not just one track to follow-- there are a lot of branches on the tree of cultual evolution too.  I suppose the best way would be similar to this class. Maybe the best way would be to demonstrate the way the class itself evolves when it is given a story and then split up and asked to retell it seperately and then to tell the retold story to different other groups would be a good demonstration of what happens in cultural evolution. (Much like this class already does but to a larger scale.)



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