Monday Night Ramblings, A Fantasy and Science-Fiction MOOC and a broken tooth


What better to do on a Monday night after an emergency dental appointment to repair a broken tooth than to cross the street and walk into the municipal library to browse for interesting books… Well, there is no way that I absolutely need to pick up books, the house as well as my Kobo are full of very interesting and appealing unread ones, but my compulsive self thought that I would feel so much better carrying out a large pile of bound pages with little black markings on them… The readers who know me are no doubt familiar with my now troubled relationship with dentistry and the related panic attacks. As I barely got through this session, some compensation was required. Oh, the calm I felt walking out into the chilly icy night with the precious bounty…

So what was the loot? Laurent Gaudé, Marie Ndiaye, Frédéric Beigbeder, Martin Michaud, Gilles Archambault, Gilles Massicotte… Oops it’s all in French…

Now back here, I have to do some studying. The latest endeavour is a Coursera MOOC on Fantasy and Science-Fiction, “taught” by Dr. Eric Rabkin from the University of Michigan. The course has an interesting reading list, which was its main appeal. I can’t say I am crazy about the delivery and course work so far. The MOOC I took last year, on Organizational Analysis, was much better in terms of feeling a connection with the teaching “entity”, although in every student survey I filled out throughout the course, I said that I felt the teacher to be very distant from me. Well, what did I know? He was positively warm compared to the current experience. I will not comment on the intricacies of peer reviewing and feedback nor on the relative uselessness of discussion forums for 40,000 people. Others have done it at length in other forums.

The course starts with tales from the Grimm Brothers. For those of us who grew up with the Disney version of such tales, the Grimm versions might look, in fact, a bit “grim”. Living happily ever after is a recurring pattern but it is not the only one. There is also: ending back where you started, getting what you deserve for being bad, barely surviving to tell the tale… Magical beings, witches and talking animals abound, as do evil stepmothers. In the course videos, the professor brings out interesting connections to Greek mythology and Christian symbology. Some of the analysis is a little to Freudian for my taste, in particular, the meaning of the tower in Rapunzel.

The second week features Lewis Carroll’s Alice stories. That is also an interesting read, in contrast to the Disney version that has long invaded our psyches. I did find myself thinking back a lot on the Tim Burton depiction of Wonderland… But the description that Carroll makes of the game of croquet is far more entertaining, I think, than any movie version. I am half way through Through the Looking Glass now.

I wrote my weekly essay on Alice’s experience of Wonderland as a parallel to trying to adapt to entering a new social setting, such as an immigrant would experience coming to a new country. My hubby thought that was not a suitable essay topic, too sociological for a literature class. The mind goes where it wants to go!


One response »

  1. Pingback: Nightspawn: (The Shadows of Night Saga) Part 9 | Excursions Into Imagination

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