See, it’s funny, because breakdown refers to me breaking down the experience of second year, but also the fact that I had another mental health relapse. (it’s really not funny at all)
A RECAP: I’m an English major, creative writing minor, and am about to go into my third year. I won’t tell you the university because I deserve some semblance of privacy, just know, it’s got a pretty bad English department. My dissertation supervisor is already off sick so I haven’t been able to email them, I’ve been emailing a secondary person. Thanks, Uni.
Second year had more fun moments and way less drinking. I put on my freshers 15 even though I’m not a fresher and now I can’t be bothered to lose any of the weight. I joined no societies, spent most of my time reading or watching TV/YouTube, and also started eating more than frozen Quorn. Even though it was a better year overall, my mental health was significantly worse. I’m just saying, when it was bad, it was bad.
My attendance was slightly better than first year, something I think you will all be happy to hear. I got better grades and I’m working on aiming for at least one first in third year. I’m living along for third year, too, which is kind of exciting! A very expensive studio flat.
As par the course, I will now summarise by semester.
FIRST SEMESTER [September-December 2018]
In this first semester, I took three modules: Using Stories, my creative writing module; Ethnicity and Diversity in American Literature, 1950-2000 which, you guessed it, is an American Lit module; and Renaissance Literature.
First off: Using Stories. A definite improvement on first year! The semester was split into three subsections, Place, History and Science, and we spent about 3 weeks on each prompt and looking into how it informs our research process and our own writing, as well as how to properly credit other sources if we use them.
We had ALG’s again (Autonomous Learning Groups), and within my group we went to a local museum and took one specific exhibit and how we want to use it in future pieces of work and how the history of the place can inspire you. I really had fun with it, and I think having this as the first CW module of the year was a smart move from the department.
My assessment for this module was 2000 words for the creative piece, and 1000 for the reflective commentary. I ended up getting a 2:1 overall!
Next is Ethnicity and Diversity. I really loved this module! Like, so much so that it has inspired all my choices in third year for modules, and also helped me decide on my dissertation topic somewhat.
Each week we focused on a different part of ethnicity and diversity in America, and had a different piece of reading for it. For my reading list, I’ll bold what I enjoyed, and * what I ended up finishing.
- N. Scott Momaday, The Way to Rainy Mountain* (I love this!)
- Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (half finished but I’ll be going back to it)
- Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior (half finished)
- Toni Morrison, Beloved (half finished)
- Tony Kushner, Angels in America* (My absolute favourite thing I’ve ever read at University)
- Junot Diaz, Drown
- Philip Roth, Defender of the Faith*
- Bernard Malamud, The Magic Barrel*
- Saul Bellow, Looking For Mr. Green*
Even though it looks like I read the same amount this year as I did last year, I actually attempted every read and got a decent chunk into all other than Drown, which I wasn’t interested in.
For my essays, I did a 1000 word passage analysis of Invisible Man that I received a 2:1 for, and I did 2500 words on Angels in America, which I received another 2:1 for.
And then there’s Renaissance Literature. I, again, paid £20 for a textbook I used once. ONCE. Just don’t bother with textbooks, honestly.
Even though I hated the seminars (I didn’t have a great group and some of them made me feel uncomfortable enough that I started skipping), and the lectures were boring, I quite enjoyed what I read and got through the module alright! There was a lot of poetry and single extract analyses, so I’ll just include the major works we looked at.
- Thomas More, Utopia (my best friend said it was boring and everyone else on my course was hating it so I skipped the seminar)
- William Shakespeare, The Sonnets
- Christopher Marlowe, Hero and Leander*
- John Milton, Paradise Lost* (before any of you attack me: I did read all of this, and I won’t take any slander because I dedicated myself and actually ended up enjoying the experience)
For my final assignments, I did a 1500 word passage analysis that I got a 2:2 in, and a 3000 word essay comparing Hero and Leander and Paradise Lost that I got a 2:1 in.
FIRST SEMESTER OF SECOND YEAR gets a pass from me! A solid 2:1 semester, enjoyed it, although Renaissance could’ve done with better lecturers and a more comfortable learning environment.
SECOND SEMESTER [January-April 2019]
Off topic, but I got a new laptop that semester. My brackets keys had been broken for a year by this point so I figured it was about time to get a new one.
For second semester, I had another three modules: Advanced Creative Writing Skills; Early Modern Fantasies and Fears; and Concepts in Criticism, which sucked, spoiler alert.
FIRST: Advanced Creative Writing Skills.
I don’t really have much to say about this one. We mostly focused on our journals and research, and each week, a different group was supposed to upload their work for other people in our class to critique and provide us with feedback. After my group went first, basically every other group starting bailing on uploading and it became a mess, we received so many shitty emails even though I had already uploaded weeks before. So annoying.
The lectures were quite dull and basically covered things we had got from semester one. There were more guest lectures, but even those couldn’t save me from boredom. I was mostly there to talk to my friends before and after the sessions, honestly.
The final assignment was a mess too. They were constantly chopping and changing what we were doing to the point that I had to email and ask what, exactly, was going on, and ended up getting a shitty email back from my lecturer. It lacked coordination and the whole group suffered for it, honestly.
We had four things to do for our final grade. First, a performance of a creative piece. I ended up doing a poem and I think it went quite well! Then I did 6 pages of poetry, where I edited and changed my performance piece, and also did several responses to poems I did in first year, and ended up with a 2:1.
We also did a book review, which I obviously aced. And then finally a reflective piece mostly looking at the process of research and keeping a journal, and how those journals informed the creation of our creative pieces. I received a first for my reflective piece and review combined, and I got a 2:1 overall that semester.
Next up is my Early Modern Fantasies and Fears module, which was probably my favourite of the semester, and my second favourite of the year!
For this module we looked at writing from the 1400s-1700s that featured the supernatural or otherwordly features, from witches to ghosts to talking cats to utopias. It was so fun, and even though the reading could be quite difficult and inaccessible in some respects, I read the pieces out loud with my friend and we had a great time.
There was a LOT of reading to do for this module, so I’ll only include what I read just for times sake.
- William Baldwin, Beware the Cat (my absolute LIFE I loved these stories)
- Henry More, An Antidote Against Atheism
- Joseph Glanvill, Sadducismus Triumphatus
- Henry Neville, The Isle of Pines
- Frances Godwin, The Man in the Moone
- Scott Wolf, On the Death of Peter Stubbe
For my final assignment, I wrote a 3000 word essay on appetite and desire and ended up getting a 2:1 which I was very happy with.
And ugh, Concepts. The absolute worst.
My seminars were really informative and great, and the lectures were well delivered, but God, I hated the content. I struggled so much with applying the concepts we were given to what we read accurately, and I found that it was only more confusing when they tried to instruct on how to carry out the essays properly. It was, in another word, fidly. It was just a really difficult module.
I read exactly none of the content, including that which I did my essays on, other than one series. I did mark Oroonoko as finished, but with the amount I remember, it’s better left unsaid. I’m planning on actually picking up Trumpet by Jackie Kay, and I had already watched Fight Club and Bend it like Beckham, so I didn’t bother re-watching either when I was busy with other modules.
I completed a 1500 essay applying the unconscious to Fight Club, which I received a 2:2 on, and a 2500 essay applying gender to Stranger Things Season 1 and 2, which I got a 2:1 on. I literally watched both seasons in 2 days, it was a mess.
And that is my second year wrapped up! I passed everything! And I was doing alright, other than the mental health stuff which I think I’m going to spend a long time understanding and finding support for. I have better friends and a more supportive environment surrounding me.
How was everyone else’s years, academic or otherwise?
Thank you for reading!
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I also currently have a GoFundMe set up to help fund my third year of University, so any stray pound helps ❤