Recent conversations have led me to thinking about religious studies. Now don’t worry I’m not about to get all religious on you. I’m talking about classes I took for my English degree. I cheated some in the “taking classes” area. If you were in the honors program some of the classes you took from that department counted as other requirements. This was AMAZING. Nothing quite like being required to take an agricultural class (like the uses for natural gases) and instead being able to take “Thomas Jefferson: The man, the legend” instead. (One of the AG professors was in love with T.J. and as such offered a fantastic class on him. He would give out prizes in class. Wine, cider, books, specialty mugs. But I digress.)
One of the classes I was required to take for my degree was a course on “The Bible as Literature.” And it’s considered one of the hardest classes in the degree requirements. This is not because of the subject, but instead because of the professor. A professor who I hated. Ok well, hate is a strong word, but he and I had irreconcilable differences. He is solely responsible for the entirety of the two C’s I ever got in classes. He hated my writing style, and he was a psycho hardass. I used to get papers back where his sole comments were along the lines of “I disagree with your argument.” Sure it was well written, but heck with that, your argument isn’t what I think the text means, therefore your grade sucks.
One midterm test he asked for the “definition of the term” and so I answered all of the required questions and I got them all marked wrong. When I asked him why, he said he was looking for the definition, the year, the text, and the author. Which was NOT in the instructions. I got a 50 on that midterm, and when I complained he refused to raise my grade. Instead he merely said I would have many chances to do better in the rest of the semester. (I know now that I could have complained to a higher power, but back then not only did I not know, but I never would have had the confidence to do so.)
Anyway, the honors program allowed me to skip taking “The Bible as Literature” with this professor. Instead I was able to take “The New Testament as Literature” with an honors professor. Honors classes were always super small so there was always good discussion. And this professor was AMAZING. The man was about 90 and a lifetime student. He was always taking classes and learning what he could. He made this class so fantastic. To understand part of it you get the summary of his life story, the one he told us.
He was originally a construction worker, which he did for 20 years until one day he got sick of it and quit. He then became a monk. Spent his time studying, learned Latin, Greek, Aramaic, and Hebrew. Then he decided religion was a crock and he quit being a monk and became atheist. He skimmed over the rest of his life all “blah, blah so I became a teacher”. He was a hoot. He encouraged us all to bring as many different versions of the New Testament for comparison. And when we discussed translation errors and passages in class he would often translate his Greek and Aramaic copies. Just straight up “Well in the Greek the word was this which also could be interpreted as this” it was just *shakes head* an experience. His background information on the translations and the church was just a trip.
He also made me want to follow him home for Thanksgiving. Because, get this, his two sons were also professors at universities. One was at Cambridge, and the other at Harvard. Apparently over Thanksgiving dinner they would argue translations and just in general Lit. Geek. Out. I was so envious. He also taught another class I took “Renaissance Literature” which was also very fun.
Blah, all this reminiscing has me thinking about other fun classes. Or other class moments. (Because as much a pain in the butt those two classes were with the Evil professor, the man was funny, and as we put on his evaluation “he knows everything about everything.”) I may do further reminiscing in the future. “Vampires as Literature” “The Origin of the Child” (GOD that was an amazing class too! Loved discussing how children became “innocent” in literature.) “American Literature II” (Typee discussions!), My Shakespeare classes (It’s all fruit!- Inside joke I can explain). “Children’s Literature”, “Modern Literature” (Shit class, the professor was also a crazy person. Literally everyone failed and the curve was insane.) I'll probably talk about us categorizing our professors as mythical creature. (We had a mummy, troll, faerie, werewolf, and so on.)
I think I’ll also see if I can find any of my old work from my Creative Writing classes.