Study hard

As strange as it sounds, mid term has arrived. I actually know now what mid-term assessments really mean. I had to take a few tests in various literature courses, as well as in my French and English language classes. Along with those, I submitted my first essay yesterday. Although I also study English at home, I never actually had to write an essay in English before. I mainly had to give presentations. Lots of them. I gave presentations in English and wrote long papers (15-18 pages) in German. And of course I had exams in the end of term. But here it’s the other way round. I already had to give a presentation in my one and only German literature class and I will have to write two more essays for my English classes. The one I handed in yesterday was about The Italian. Although it wasn’t easy, I had fun writing about this novel. As I mentioned in an earlier post, it is a Gothic novel and I’m totally new to this genre. But I enjoyed getting into it and doing the close reading thing. I had to write about the ambivalence in The Italian and concentrated on the contradiction of darkness and light, the motif of the veil and the two coinciding oppositions of superstition vs. reason and appearance vs. reality. Naturally, there was a time during the writing process where I cursed the whole thing, but on the whole I loved doing it. I like to read, obviously. I also like writing. I study literature, what’s not to like?
One thing is actually bothering me. There’s not enough time for discusing all the books I have to read. In my two Jane Austen seminars, I already had to read a lot of books, like Evelina, A sicilian Romance, Emma, Northanger Abbey, Mansfield Park, The Watsons, Lady Susan. Needless to say, I already knew the ones by Jane Austen (which are the last five). I read them again, nonetheless. However, we only had one class to discuss each of them. How is that even possible? It is not. Because of this, we can only scratch on the surface of it and maybe talk about one specific topic. It’s a shame. Don’t get me wrong, I still love it but I would like to do more. Today we also talked about two great poems. One was by Coleridge called “Christabel” and the other was by Keats called “Lamia”. I am not very good in analysing poems because I never get what they are really about. But I love reading them out aload – the language is just beautiful. They’re pretty long but it is worth it. But again there was too little time to talk about them properly. It was just so interesting and the 50mins passed by so quickly. Well, I hope there will be nice suggestions for the essays and I can outperform myself. 🙂
Oh, I also met the great actor Andrew Scott (or more likely, Moriarty in the Sherlock series) today. He came to UCD to receive an honour title from the Arts Society. It was great. Unfortunately, he didn’t want to give away any spoilers of the 4th season.

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Jane Austen or not?!

I have been here for a whole month and as you can tell from my previous post, I am obsessed with Jane Austen. She is not Irish. She is not one of the living. And yet, I cannot help trying anything within my power to spend my days here connected with her works. University life has started and I am very busy, being overwhelmed by the extraordinary size of the UCD Campus and very big number of students. I can count myself very lucky of arriving a little earlier than the beginning of the semester. This way I could explore the gigantic grounds of the college with all the necessary leisure time I needed. In these days there are students everywhere. It seems ages ago, but I recall my first week when I first got lost on these (for me then) confusing premises. I just followed some sports students, or sporty students if you like, thinking they would lead me to the right place. I was wrong. They led me to the sports part, as I should have predicted. There they went into a big building called The Institute of Sport & Health, presumably in order to change. Since I had neither clothes to change nor any need for it (since I hadn’t done any exercise, you see), I just walked on. In the wrong direction. It turned out that I was now in the part of the campus called Richview. I saw a building called The Richview Library, went in and a nice lady librarian told me the directions and kindly printed me a map. She laughed and said I would have to walk another 20 minutes (that’s right, this university is big!) to get to my intended destination. I smiled and shrugged, thanked her sincerely for rescuing me and enjoyed the nice weather during my walk there. The other day, I overheard a conversation between two other exchange students. One of them was complaining about the small size of the campus. I almost went over there. However, I didn’t and felt more like a country girl than I have ever before.

Anyway, you might wonder how all this is connected to Jane Austen (or you’re feeling relief because you don’t want to hear anything else about her after my last post) – I will tell you: All her heroines “are fond of walking” and love wandering about!

Nooo… I just wanted to give you a short account of my start here. The getting-lost-part was not all of it, to be sure. However, as soon as I knew my ways, I got along with everything just fine. The campus is quite big, it’s true, but since I’ve possessed a bike it’s become much easier. You’ll rejoice to hear that I have a bike! It’s pink & a great addition to my happiness.

But focus: Jane Austen. The third week at university is moving towards its end and I am happy to say that I love it! I was able to get into two Jane Austen courses and I can attend one lecture called ‘Romanticism’. This is wonderful! The courses are called ‘Jane Austen and her Peers’ and ‘Regency Writing’. I am eager to find out more about them every week. Plus, I have to read a lot. I mean really a lot. Last week I should have finished two books and read some articles/opinions about that time. This week one more book was added to that list, so that is why I’m reading three different books at the moment. But I absolutely love it! Among them are Evelina by Fanny Burney and The Italian by Ann Radcliffe. I wanted to read Evelina for a long time already, since I knew that Jane Austen must have read it, for it was published in her time. I even have it packed in one of my boxes back home in Germany. But I purchased another edition at the Campus bookstore and went right to reading it. Only to find out that I needed to finish the one by Ann Radcliffe before this one. So by the time I was halfway through Evelina, I started The Italian. Here I was introduced to a total new genre, the Gothic Novel. I was amazed. I had only heard of it before – again guess, where? That’s right, in one of Jane Austen’s novels! In Northanger Abbey she makes fun of this genre by letting her heroine fancying herself in mysterious situations throughout the whole story. In the book the naive Catherine Morland is reading The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe and constantly imagines herself in the supernatural or terror. However, she soon meets the satirical Mr Tilney who aims to put an end to her incredible imagination before marrying her. This novel is said to be a parody of Gothic novels in general. Although I am sure even Jane Austen herself liked to be taken into some mystery while reading. I was struck by the suspense of the book and couldn’t so easily put it away again. As you might have guessed: I have long desired to read Udolpho and now even more.

I am still not done reading, so I better get back to it now. But if you’re interested – I might post more about those novels soon. Or not. I should maybe focus on university life, as I intended to start this blog for that main reason. Who knows.