Inside the Classroom
What's it like to be a student at the College of Letters and Science? This series is written by current students, giving you a front-row seat at a typical day in an undergraduate or graduate class.
Take a look inside the classroom.
"So, what is a story for?" The voice of Religious Studies Professor Catherine Chin rings out through the near-full 400-person lecture hall in the Social Sciences and Humanities Building. Professor Chin has come this rainy spring Thursday to ask her audience of both students and general public about the truths and purposes of stories. The stories she tells, however, are no fairy tales. These stories are about apocalypse, or “end of world” phenomena, throughout the ages.
In the midst of a traffic jam of students and bikes, Classics 30 meets in Wellman Hall with more than one hundred students filing in. Students of all ages and majors take this class for various reasons, but many may not think about the importance of the course itself to their overall education. Classics 30 is unique: it provides an insight to the source of grammatical structure as well as the beginnings of western culture.
As the students of American Studies 59: Music in American Culture amble into Giedt 1003, Professor Ari Y. Kelman is playing a blues song via his laptop and audio system. AMS 59 is unlike any music class because it explores the relationship music has with music production, race, consumption, class, gender and listening. The song ends and there is silence. Kelman then begins the class asking questions about what the blues are in terms of music, culture, gender and authenticity.
It's about four weeks into the fall quarter. Freshmen hustle into Olson 144. They take out their note-taking materials (some laptops and some still like to use paper and pen) and wait for Professor of Italian, Margherita Heyer- Caput to pass back their weekly film responses that they will use later for discussion. She introduces the film of the week and begins discussion on the previous week’s film, Romanzo Criminale, a film that is set in Rome’s 1970s about lifelong friends who take over organized crime in Rome. The room seems to light up as the students' interest is piqued. This is Freshman Seminar: Images of Youth in Contemporary Italian Cinema.
It is a Friday morning in January, and about 400 students in Music 10 look a little sleepy in the dimly-lit Main Theatre, waiting for class to start. D. Kern Holoman, professor of music, takes the podium and as the clock strikes 9am and students start to move a little more quickly to their seats as the quiz of the week begins. For 10 minutes, the room is silent except for shuffling papers and pencils tapping on desks. When the quiz is done, Holoman announces the subject of the day’s lecture: Gregorian chant during the Renaissance. This is Music 10: Introduction to Musical Literature.
African American Studies (AAS) 181 (Hip Hop in Urban America), is one of those classes that fill up every quarter. Unique, interesting and cool, AAS 181 is much more than a general education requirement
In November 2010, acclaimed San Francisco Chronicle art critic Kenneth Baker turned his eye upon the artwork of UC Davis MFA candidates, offering them his professional critique. This kind of experience, for art students, is an extremely valuable part of their early careers as artists. MFA candidates Jen Cohen and Mathew Zefeldt were amongst the handful of fortunate artists whose work Baker examined.