Reading Books by their Covers

Posted by Alex | | Posted On Tuesday, 5 October 2010 at 18:33

Well, that's that. The first round of lectures is over  well, the first round of "first ever lectures in Italian" - so I'm going to prejudge them all, like reading a book by its cover. What will the scores be? Read on to find out!

[Regarding the scoring, Content and Personal Interest will be out of 5. I will then multiply that by 'how bored I can be, before I kill myself', out of 10. The higher the score, the better the subject]

Linguistica Generale
Possibly my favourite course, ever. I mean, I loved Italian History in Year 1; I loved Catalan in Year 2. This year, I love General Linguistics. Not only is the lecturer so adorable; the lessons actually interest me. Okay, translating ideas from one language to another isn't all that hard, yet; the concepts are fairly easy to grasp so far; and the examples we are given are genuinely useful bits of nerd-out knowledge. Did you know Noam Chomsky believed we were all born with grammatical rules in our head, and we just applied those rules in the way we see them being used around us daily? Crazy, right?

Content: 5/5
Boredom Threshold: 8.0
Personal Interest: 5/5
Overall Score: 80

Storia dell'Arte Medievale
I blame this totally on Angelo. He was a lecturer in my first year (for those of you who didn't go to Cardiff/do Italian there) - his 'specialist subject' is medieval art and architecture, so he taught a few lessons on churches and painters in Italian History.
Part of me regrets taking this. Not because the concepts are hard: in English, they're easy - "The church is built in a cruciform, over the remains of a paleo-Christian church." - it's because translating it back, or even trying to follow it in your head as you're scribbling furiously in Italian, results in major brain melt. Maybe it's because it's a 9am lecture; maybe it's because I sat at the front, and the lecturer taught from behind me (how odd), or maybe it's because I genuinely don't understand as much about Cathedrals as I'd like to think.

Content: 4/5
Boredom Threshold - 4.0
Personal Interest: 5/5
Overall: 36

Letteratura Italiana
I wanted to take Renaissance Literature, and Modern Literature. That way, I'd have my Petrarch in one lecture, and my Calvino fix for the year. Turns out one was cancelled and the other moved to the 2nd semester when I'm not here. Instead, I'm taking Italian Literature, which still covers Petrarch and all that yummy goodness, but does so in a way that means it focuses more on the intricacies, rather than the words, or so it seems.
On the upside, everyone there seems to love literature. On the downside, it's all literature that I haven't read. It seems everyone could shout out "It's Petrarch/Boccaccio/Dante!" to the lecturer, as though in some literary pantomime, except for little old me. Still, I decided to challenge myself and translate as I wrote; huzzah for knowing words like hemistitch, iambic, and hendecasyllabic. (Oh, and 'funny story', I walked in late and the lecturer was babbling on about laws and politics and economics. I thought 'Shit, maybe I'm meant to be in Room 2, not Room 7 - seconda, settima, easy mistake - and I recognised some folks from Political Science in the front row. Instead of getting up and leaving though, I sat for thirty minutes listening to him talk about this before he said "Now, Italian literature!" -- funny, right? No? Well, maybe you just had to be inside my head...)

Content: 4/5
Boredom Threshold: 6.0
Personal Interest: 4/5
Overall: 64

So, for those who hoped to skip this far and see the scores on the doors, here's the rundown:
Linguistica Generale - 80
Letteratura Italiana - 64
Storia dell'Arte Medievale - 36

Still, I'll carry on with them. It's only 9 hours a week, and I only have one really long day - today - which runs from 9am til 6pm. I get a 3 hour break from 1 til 4, so it's not all that bad. It just sucks getting in so late after leaving the house at 8.30. Ah, well.

Highlights of my day:
1. Buying 3 books valued at €20 for only €16 at the Libreria Feltrinelli. Brilliant - two for my course, and one for my own reading pleasure. Happy days.
2. An old man, on an electric bicycle, whistling as he passed me. I loved it. You might not be in the same mindset to agree...
3. My Medieval Art History lecturer looks like Ms Courtney from Mind your Language. I suggest you watch it, unless you hate how un-PC the 70's were...

And on that note, I'm off to watch some of that glorious show. And maybe make yet more pasta. So many varieties!


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