Now that I’m on my 5th week of classes here, I have to say that, for the most part, they are amazing. My biggest class consists of 20 people, all are seminar/discussion based literature classes with amazing professors. There is one professor, however, who I have become obsessed with in recent weeks.
Professor Majeed teaches my Post-Colonial Indian Literature class. (Yeah it’s a mouthful, I know.) Now, when people asked me what classes I was planning on taking abroad, I was very excited to say, “Shakespeare: Text and Performance” (because what English major would be able to say no to a Shakespeare class IN LONON). I was thrilled to mention, “Writing London” (a class about about London-based literature while IN LONDON, how cool?!). I was equally delighted to say, “Modern British Drama and Performance” (seeing, reading, and discussing the most provocative British plays & tickets on NYU’s budget, yes please!). Even the required lecture was mentioned without any unbecoming facial expressions, “Issues in Contemporary British Politics & Culture” (seems appropriate for someone who claims to be intellectually active living in the country for five months). My fourth English class, though, - one that actually gets an English department requirement out of the way (world literature/postcolonial req.) was the one I mentioned with the least pizazz “Postcolonial Indian Literature.”
Maybe if the title wasn’t so hypersyllabic, I would have had an easier time spurting it off at every Christmas/New Year’s gathering. Maybe if I hadn’t known it was a *required* English Department class, I wouldn’t have automatically attached such a harsh and regimented stigma. To give myself some credit, I did acknowledge I would rather take such a class in the country of the ruling colonial power (where small undercurrents of colonialism and still culturally significant) than 3000 miles removed in New York City. I saw the reading list and cringed a little, lots of heavily title books. The syllabus on the first day (and after reading the 3 essays due for the premier class) scared me even more: two papers, one 2000-word worth 40% and one 3000-word worth 50% with a 10% participation grade thrown in for good measure.
Oh boy, what did I get myself into? Both fellow class mates and adults (and myself) asked me that. Isn’t study abroad supposed to be an academic break? (Be Tee Dub: totally false. Study Abroad - at least speaking as an NYU English LIT. major is not a break. The classes are just as hard, if not harder than in NYC.)
Anxieties dwindled as the weeks of the class progressed, though. Simple questions led to brilliant discussions and added context by an even more brilliant professor whose every sentence sounds like a perfectly constructed multi-clause thesis statement (sometimes with added humor). Obscure and hard to read texts become accessible and even . . . dare I say it . . . ENJOYABLE during class. Upon the discovery that Amazon sold half of our class a bootlegged version of one of the texts - consisting of only half of the book, we have all found ourself ordered another, full version so we may read it and finish it.
To spare you more ramblings about how I am obsessed with every sentence I have read for that class (No joke. I feel like a loser & halfway wish I was joking, but this could be the best class ever, some of which may be due to how wrong a light I initially cast it in). So long story short - my postcolonial Indian literature conversion experience only reinforces something life continuously teaches me. What you expect is never what you get. What you often dread often proves to be less horribly terrible that you anticipate.
Cheers & Love,