April 28, 2004

The Diamond Age

When I started reading The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson, I really did not enjoy it at all, I am not one to really enjoy novels in the genre of cyberpunk, because I am so technologically disinclined that simply hearing all the technobabble makes my head hurt. After the first few pages, I had no desire to keep reading because my assumption that there would be a lot of technobabble was confirmed, and I continued on simply because I did not want to fail Dr. Jerz's quiz. By page 140, I was hooked. There was still a lot of technobabble (and I confess, I skipped over a few passages) but Stephenson managed to create a story and character so compelling that I was unwillingly drawn into the story. The way the book was formated really added to the story, because we learned what was happening the same time as the characters did. We also saw most of the events in the story through Nell's perspective, so we gained more insight into her character than the others. Even so, the characters, and the circumstances that surrounded them, were so interesting that I found myself wanting more after I had turned the last page. I liked the way the book ended, but I was still left with many questions that I wanted answered. How did Nell go about reforming society? Did the primers of the Hun girls raise them simply to be a mouse army for Nell, or were they also raised to be individuals, as the primers did for Nell, Elizabeth, and Fiona? What happens to Nell and Miranda now that they've found each other?

Posted by JohannaDreyfuss at 12:07 PM | Comments (0)

Influences of the English Major

I think that more than any other major, the English major influences outside classes and experiences. Aside from the obvious "It improves my writing" or "I have better command of my native tongue," I have found that the skills I am gaining from my English classes are helping me in *almost* all of my other classes. This semester, the only non-Enlgish course I have is WCT. I love history, and I have a pretty good grasp on it, but Dr. Wendland's British Lit course this semester really helped me solidify the differences between the Romantic, Victorian, and Modern eras that we were studying in both courses. Aside from having WCT last semester as well, the only other non-English course I took was Faith, Religion, and Society, where, in addition to many papers, I had to give a presentation at the end of the course. Since many English majors are Education majors as well, a lot of the courses have emphasized presentations and public speaking. As a shy person, I don't enjoy giving presentations, and the experience I have gained from these classes has really helped me cope with my nervousness, and give me ways to combat it. All in all, the skills I have gained from my English major have not only helped me in other areas, but I know that they will continue to help me throughout life.

Posted by JohannaDreyfuss at 11:23 AM | Comments (3)

April 26, 2004


"In isolation, I am isolated. For once I can use a term literally. The chemotherapeutic agents eradicating my cancer have also eradicated my immune system. In my present condition, every living thing is a health hazard to me..."

"I am not in isolation because I have cancer, because I have a tumor the size of a grapefuit. No. I am in isolation because I am being treated for cancer. My treatment imperils my health." (page 47)

These two quotes from the play W;t really got me thinking about the nature of cancer and its treatment. Vivian had no hope of surviving. However, for the sake of research the doctors subjected her to treatment that did nothing but dehumanize and degrade her. How much did her treatment really help cancer research? Aside from Jason's reaction to her death, it didn't seem like much.

When someone is in the last stage of cancer, and the doctors know that treatment will not only be pointless, but that it will worsen her condition, it seems inhumane to administer it. Vivian was turned into little more than a lab rat, with Suzie providing her only glimpse at humanity. How is such treatment considered civilized or humane? Vivian should have been allowed to die in peace, surrounded by her poetry.

Posted by JohannaDreyfuss at 09:52 PM | Comments (2)

April 25, 2004

I Love Research Papers

I know it's strange, but I absolutely love doing research papers! I think it is so much fun to submerse yourself in research to find a thesis and supportive/opposing arguments. Then trying to link it all together in a coherent essay is surprisingly invigorating (that, or I've been drinking too much coffee). Although I'm a terrible procrastinator, I'm really enjoying the two research papers I have to write for my WCT and EL 150 classes. For WCT, I get to write about Scottish History, one of my favorite topics. I'm already quite knowledgeable in the area, considering I've bought almost every Scottish history book Barnes & Noble keeps in stock. As enjoyable as that paper is, I'm also really enjoying my EL 150 paper. I'm writing it on The Diamond Age, a novel we read for class that at first I didn't like, but really came to enjoy. I'm writing mine on the importance of role models in the novel, and how their absence or presence influenced the characters. Since psychology isn't one of my most knowledgeable areas, I'm really getting to learn a lot through my research, which is what I love most about the whole process. I know it's geeky, but there is something exciting about choosing a topic and learning everything you can about it.

Posted by JohannaDreyfuss at 09:45 PM | Comments (4)

April 22, 2004

Confusion All Around

After reading Mike's blog about his career path uncertainties, I got to thinking about my own uncertainties, and where I would like my major to take me. When I was in high school, I couldn't decide whether or not I wanted to enter college as an English major or a Music Education major. After a few piano lessons where my teacher really pushed the guilt card, I decided on Music Education. First semester Freshmen year was fine, but after that, I began to realize that I really wasn't enjoying myself. Music had become tedious as opposed to enjoyable, and I knew from my few sample lessons that I would make a horrific teacher.

After two years I decided to transfer schools and majors. I chose Seton Hill because the idea of being a Creative Writing major, as opposed to just a Literature major, was very appealing to me. So, here I am. I have finally decided upon my major, but I still don't know what I want to do with it. I have tossed several ideas around, some of which include magazine writing and book editing. I know that I would like to continue my education with Grad. School, but I would like to have a focus area before spending all that money. If anyone has any input they would like to give me, I would really appreciate it. I know there are options out there, I just have to find them.

Posted by JohannaDreyfuss at 10:28 PM | Comments (17)