A Semester of Classes I Loved

Classes ended on December 9, and I can now say with certainty that this was the best semester I’ve ever had in terms of classes. As a senior who has already completed all of my general education and International Relations major requirements, I had a ton of freedom in choosing my classes this semester. I ended up with four amazing classes, which I will summarize here for you:

IR 190: Senior International Relations Seminar

This senior seminar was my only required class this semester. For students of many majors, the fall of senior year requires a senior seminar–a class taken with all of your fellow majors. International Relations (my major) is no different. Unlike other International Relations seminars, this class was not a discussion of IR theory, but instead more of a forum where each student worked on developing ideas for their senior thesis, then producing the first chapter of their thesis. I picked my own readings and read them closely, knowing we would not go over them in class. The class was very much self-driven, but also fostered a sense of community as we read and discussed each other’s theses. In the end, I turned in the first chapter of my thesis, a work that I’m proud of and that will certainly guide the rest of my thesis, which I’ll write in the spring. Shout out to Professor Pierre Englebert for teaching my section of the class (there were two sections) and for making himself incredibly accessible to help with thesis crises of all sorts.

GWS 026: Introduction to Gender, Race, and Sexuality Studies

Technically, the title of this course is “Introduction to Gender & Women’s Studies,” but the professor, Hentyle Yapp, tweaked the title, primarily to focus on race and the intersections of race and gender. There’s something to be said for taking an intro-level class as a college senior. I really enjoyed learning new concepts and frameworks of analysis, as well as working with (really brilliant) peers of all class years. This class took a historical and theoretical overview of gender/race/sexuality studies and the complex relationships between all of them. The syllabus says: “I view this course as offering students ways to 1) define and describe contesting theories, methods, histories and representations of gender, feminisms, and women; 2) situate social belonging in relation to modes of governance and politics; and 3) analyze gender from a wide range of analytics and disciplines.” I can say without doubt that it achieved all of these things. While this class’s workload was not incredibly heavy, this was one of the only classes where I took time to read every single one of the class readings, simply because I found them so interesting. To prospective/current students: take this class!

ART 021: Foundations of 2D Design

This was probably the most fun class I’ve taken at college. To be honest, I signed up for this class partially to be in the beautiful new Studio Art Hall. I had taken one art class before, Drawing I, which I left with mixed feelings, but I thoroughly enjoyed this class the entire semester. Martine Syms, an adjunct professor who (sadly) taught this class for only this semester, had us make type specimens, posters, image ecologies, animated commercials, and zines, among other projects. I spent many hours in the 2D design lab, but it was a refreshing break from more reading and writing based homework, and I was proud of pretty much everything I produced.

ENGL 187: Race & Gender in Postcolonial Literature

I came into college thinking I might be an English major…and this was the first English class I’ve ever taken in college. This class was at Scripps College, as Pomona students can take classes at any of the other 4 undergraduate colleges in the Claremont Consortium (Claremont McKenna, Scripps, Pitzer, and Harvey Mudd). Again, this was a class where I thoroughly read every single one of the class readings. It was super refreshing to read poems, short stories, and books, rather than academic papers. Class discussion was always vibrant and fascinating, and I always looked forward to insights from our wonderful professor, Michelle Decker. We read colonial and post-colonial pieces, considered authors’ and readers’ race and gender identities, and asked the question “what is the post-colonial?” The class community was amazing, and we even had an optional Friday meeting at the Grove House after classes ended to talk about poetry one last time before the semester was over!