Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Wolf's College Electives Meme

The Wolf seems to have invented a meme on the topic of college electives, and tagged me.

Here goes.

In college, I majored in Judaic Studies and Linguistics. Most of the classes I took fell into one or the other, or both, of those major requirements. Aside from the JUST and the LING classes, I also took:
Ice Skating
Religions of the World
The Dynamic Earth (an introductory geology class)
Epics: Gilgamesh to StarWars
Buried Cities & Lost Tribes (an introductory archeology class)
Elementary Logic (to fulfill the math requirement)
Introduction to Poetry
Prose Poems / Flash Fiction (creative writing)
History of the Future (a history course on trends and predictions)
Tai Chi
Musics of the World
Global Change: A Geological Perspective
Ancient Near Eatern Religions
Within my majors, I took a wide variety of classes including "Teaching English as a Second Language", "Blacks and Jews in American Cultural History", "Love, Wine, and Death" (medieval Hebrew secular poetry), "Synagogue and State", and a few courses in Sociolinguistics and Linguistic Anthropology. The Linguistics major had a requirement of a certain number of language courses, which I fulfilled by taking Hebrew, Spanish, Yiddish, Arabic, Japanese, and Irish [Gaelic].

If I were going back to college now, I would definitely take more Anthropology and Archeology. I also realized on the day of my graduation that I should have majored or minored in Geology, instead of just taking two courses; there's one GEOL professor at my university who integrated exciting field trips into all his courses, from measuring the gorges of the Finger Lakes and knocking Devonian fossils out of exposed rock by Interstate 81 to going spelunking in caves near Albany. I would also take even more Phys Ed courses. Those were fun.

Unfortunately, when I was at Hebrew University for graduate school they were fairly strict about what courses we could take. Because I was in a Jewish Education program, my 'advisor' insisted, there was no way I could take a Geology of Israel course. Todah la’Eil I was able to justify and/or sneak into my schedule a course on Biblical Research Using Computer Analysis and one on Comparative Semitic Linguistics.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You and I have similar interests and background.

8/14/2007 3:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You liked PhysEd? Since when are you athletic? Didn't see that one coming...

8/14/2007 7:32 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...




well, i was sure athletic in college. i got sort of lazy after that, but am trying to do more bike-riding now.

8/14/2007 8:20 PM  
Blogger BrooklynWolf said...

Epics: Gilgamesh to StarWars

*That* sounds like a cool course... and I'm not even a big Star Wars fan.

The Wolf

8/15/2007 11:32 AM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...


it also included the Iliad, Beowulf, a West African epic called Ozidi, and the Serbian side of the Battle of Kosovo Polje.

8/15/2007 3:50 PM  
Blogger The back of the hill said...


My mother pressured me into reading Beowulf in the original language when I was nine years old.

It helped considerably that there were also various retellings in modern English. And a comic-strip version in snarky Dutch.

A ripping yarn. Literally. It gave me interesting dreams.


Beowulf was big among English majors at Berkeley in the fifties. We used to have recordings of both my uncle John reading from it, and also one of her profs doing likewise.

8/15/2007 5:03 PM  
Blogger Phillip Minden said...

Was the standard to try to pronounce it as in the author's period? I'm asking because with Shakespeare and contemporaries, people won't even think about it as a rule, but Beowulf looks too different not to be confronted with the question.

8/17/2007 4:46 AM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

in the class i took, we read it in translation, btw

8/17/2007 6:32 AM  
Blogger J. "יהוא בן יהושפט בן נמשי" Izrael said...

Gee, I didn't know they had ice skating and karate in universities!

Steg, if you hear any university that offers courses in firearm handling or headbanging or beer drinking classes let me know. I must get a scholarship for all the free ammo and beer! No wonder people are mad about yeshiva guys not having all this fun!

On a more serious note, the thing that turned me off most from higher education was my parents' super-duper intellectual attitude (tons of useless degrees in greek, roman, philosophy etc) that money doesn't matter at all only spiritual things. (which is true but not so fun in practice).


"It's not like she woke up one morning and said "i feel Jewish, therefore i must be" — she learned about Jewish tradition and the Jewish people, and voluntarily bound herself up in our fate. Give her some credit at least for that!"

שטעג, אתה באמת פסיכי או סתם גזען?
מה היא עשתה לך שאתה רוצה לגייר אותה?
א גוט'ן שבת

8/17/2007 1:12 PM  
Blogger J. "יהוא בן יהושפט בן נמשי" Izrael said...

I meant latin - same ....

8/17/2007 1:14 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...


ice skating and karate were Phys Ed classes; you had to take 2, to fulfill two different requirements (PE: activity, and PE: wellness); i took 4 because they were fun. and i did Capoeira and foam swordfighting on the side.

i have a similar anti-finance attitude to your parents; i was turned off of my own parents' "it's so shameful to be poor, no one must ever know that we're not really middle class" attitude.

למה אתה רוצה לשוחח בענין הזה כאן, ולא אצל דוב־בער?
זה לא ענין של גזע אצלי, זה ענין של זהות. באמת לא אכפת לי כל כך המצב הפרטי שלה, אינני מכיר אותה או את פרטי סיפוריה; זה ענין כללי, של איך להתייחס ליהודים שאינם יהודים מבחינה הלכתית.
אני רואה אותם אם לא כבני־ברית ממש, כבעלי־ברית במובן הפוליטיקאי.
הסברתי יותר שם אצל ד"ב, ויש עוד במאמר שלי ובהערות כאן

8/17/2007 2:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The language of Beowulf cannot be understood by a Modern English speaker unless it is studied as a foreign language. It is like an Italian reading a Latin text. I suspect that it was just about as incomprehensible to Chaucer as it is to us.

8/17/2007 3:28 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...


similarly, there was a guy in that Epics class of Greek descent, who told us that his uncle or grandfather used to force him to read Homer, even though he couldn't understand the Ancient Greek at all.

8/17/2007 3:33 PM  
Blogger The back of the hill said...


You probably already seen this:

Hwæt! We Gardena in geardagum,
[Hwait!! Veh gardy na in gayarda gum...]
þeodcyninga, þrym gefrunon,
hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon.
Oft Scyld Scefing sceaþena þreatum,

Ande so wyter.

8/17/2007 4:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you should have taken more math

8/19/2007 12:56 AM  
Blogger J. "יהוא בן יהושפט בן נמשי" Izrael said...

Good ol' Steg... known me for so long, still doesn't get the jokes... I meant why harm someone (play such a nasty trick on 'em) I only mentioned it cos I saw ur comment. I's there 1st time in 8 months and don't plan another visit too soon. Since I was here I brought it up. They were AH's I wanted to scream STFU but that wouldn't help anyway. nevermind.

My opposition was not to not keeping up with the Cohns, but the impracticality of Greek & Latin & Chinese philosophy. I mean all those phd's and zero practicality... Actually I'm starting to become like them now. But I look at my kids and I think they're in this crazy world. How to navigate B/W truth and social BS? I could do well on bread & water, but I don't think the rest of the family would like it. And I admit I'm addicted to this good life too. What can I do? Return to F/T kollel? Trade in the town car for an '86 camry? Go live in a basement? Once I was discussing it with my chavrusa, and we +/- came to the conclusion that if we were less busy ripping each others' guts out and form a more united Jewish society we could adapt the Western model to Yiddishkeit instead of vice-versa. (Maybe this is actually the original RZ idea... in a way) so as to make it possible for Mr. Average Joe to learn more than symbolaically and have a job too. Say 6 hrs work 6 hrs learn. I know business people who do this, but that's delicate too. Gotta get to a point where there's a steady & satisfying income, and keep it there while investing more in learning. It's a LOT esier said than done...

8/19/2007 1:04 AM  
Blogger Will said... wonder you all need Masters degrees before you can actually enter a field. And you pay for this?

8/19/2007 2:26 PM  
Blogger J. "יהוא בן יהושפט בן נמשי" Izrael said...

BTW Steg, now it's my turn to "tag" you. And no, incidentally this time I do NOT mean it as a joke. Would you like to write an article about the "number of the beast" and shed light on that term?


Joe (without a 'k' - this time)

8/21/2007 9:42 PM  
Blogger Lion of Zion said...

linguistics? who would have thought.

8/29/2007 12:48 AM  
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