This is going to be a new feature at Bibliophilic Monologues about which I will tell you more shortly.
So past Tuesday, I started my grad program at the University of British Columbia which is also the place where I did my undergrad. Woot. I am pursuing an MA in Children’s Literature and considering that this blog is almost wholly dedicated to young adult literature, I think (okay, I made an executive decision) to share these glimpses of my continuing program and the classes I take for it. My MA program is interdisciplinary which basically means that we take courses from a variety of faculties such as English, Creative Writing, Library Science, even Psychology (child psychology). It is very exciting stuff and well, I am ridiculously happy to be in it.
On Tuesday we had both classes and orientation and it was a very full day at the end of which I was teetering from what felt like information overload. Grad school people, as my friend Krystle observed in her entry about it, are very big on being social. The MACL (masters of arts in children’s lit) program is small enough that you get to know everybody and you “fall into friendship” as one of my cohort said. (I love that word, cohort.) There are only 9 incoming students this year and I hope we will all get along really well.
(I am thinking about roping them into making the occasional guest post. We will see, hohoho!)
I am taking four classes this term. They are New Media for Children, Contemporary Children’s Lit, Creative Writing for Children and an independent study where I study translated versions of the same work for children and adults and see what changes there have been made to the children’s version and what this says about children’s literature. New Media for Children is going to be challenging but I have a wonderful professor who makes the three hours pass by very swiftly. Contemp children’s lit – okay, you know how we in the book blogging community use “contemporary” as a subgenre in YA genre to refer to books with realistic themes? That’s not the way they roll in academia. Contemporary children’s literature is all children’s literature published in the last thirty years. What we refer to as “contemporary” they call “realistic fiction.” It makes sense, I guess? I always get tangled up in the distinction though.
I am in the advanced class for creative writing and jeez, you guys, these kids are MFAs, they are strong writers, future novelists and I am intimidated beyond belief. I don’t know how strong or how bad my writing is but I do hope to improve so I guess I am in the right place. I mean, if I am really awful, they’ll tell me how to get better, right? Contemporary Children’s Lit is taught by the MACL chair and she’s absolutely awesome.
As for the general atmosphere in grad school environment, it is competitive, yes, but it is convivial. People are actually glad to see you and there is this sense of camaraderie, of fellowship that I found lacking in my undergrad years. People are passionate about the same things you are and they don’t think you are weird for waxing poetic about that obscure thing you like and your friends don’t get. As for the work load, it is intense but more than that, people expect you to be responsible for the work. You have reached a level in your academic life where your performance, your results depend entirely on you.
It’s thrilling. And a bit scary.
I hope you enjoyed this first glimpse. More as I experience life as a grad student.