I’ve been keeping busy with my classes this semester. Double majoring in Computer Science and English literature means a schedule full of classes for both majors, but since I really enjoy both subjects, all of my classes are fascinating. I’m currently taking Assembly Language and Computer Architecture, Computer Science II, Honors Art History, and Shakespeare. As it turns out, my two computer science classes technically count as upper-division courses, and my Shakespeare class is also an upper-division English course. Upper division classes are very focused, so we get to cover a large amount of material over the course of a semester.
Double majoring at Puget Sound is very doable, provided that you are able to fulfill the requirements of two majors and the core requirements. Often, students who double major replace their electives or a minor with the credits for a second major. As long as you know that you’re planning to double major early, most double majors are not too difficult to fulfill. For me, having AP credit gave me the flexibility to figure out what I wanted to major in during my first year and still double major starting my second year, but AP credits are certainly not necessary for double majors.
My classes are really interesting right now. Shakespeare is a nice mixture of discussion and lecture, and we read about a play every other week. This gives us time to discuss, but also to move through seven Shakespearian plays in the course of a semester. My Computer Science II class teaches not only intermediate Java programming, but also provides a thorough treatment of programming algorithms and data structures. A major focus is on efficient programming and good style, always useful skills. My Assembly class has taught me a lot about underlying mechanics of computers, and it should only get more informative as we dive into computer hardware in the next week or so. Learning how the computer actually encodes the instructions that allow me to type and display what you see here is really interesting. The class also has forced me to think about the most basic mechanics of computers. For example, computers do simple arithmetic simply by performing logical operations (with on/off electric currents). It’s really fascinating. Lastly, Honors Art History has been really enjoyable. We started with Egyptian art, investigating open questions and current scholarship in Egyptian art as well as the fundamentals, and we also looked at some art in the on campus gallery in a response paper.
Lastly, I wanted to update you on some research that I did this summer that I haven’t described so far. I did a lot of reading on dreams in Renaissance literature this summer, and also a fair amount of writing about the topic. It’s been very useful to have this additional knowledge about Renaissance literature for my English classes.
We are currently studying A Midsummer Night’s Dream in my Shakespeare class, and having some background on the issues related to dreams helps to explain why Shakespeare labels his entire play a “dream.” Moreover, the relatively subtle references to dreams throughout the play become much less subtle with some knowledge of Renaissance dream terminology and psychology. Reading the play again with additional knowledge of dream in the Renaissance has been a very interesting experience.
One fascinating part of the research was how strongly it resonated with other literature. In retrospect this comes as no real surprise: dreams, like death and taxes, are universal. For literature, this means that dreams have been depicted long before the dawn of Western Literature. They have been described in Greek and Roman poetry, Medieval literature (dream visions comprised some 30% of Medieval poetry according to Peter Brown, Reading Dreams), Renaissance literature, and onto today. There are striking similarities in dream literature throughout history, but there are also some puzzling historical differences. Why, for example, did the ancients tend to depict dreams as divine or other powerful figures visiting a dreamer with a message – something that does not seem to happen in ‘real’ dreams (Harris, Dreams and Experience in Classical Antiquity)? Why did dream visions account for so much Medieval poetry? Why do similar passages recur from antiquity through the Renaissance (and possible beyond)? Scholars have proposed answers to some of these questions, but the jury is out on most related to dreams.
That’s all for now. The Town Crier New Play Festival is opening this week (featuring a short play that I wrote!), so more about that soon. Until next time!