Michel Foucault. It’s a name that strikes fear into the hearts of a lot of undergraduates. He’s the Voldemort of the humanities in that he can be kind of the worst, but we also wouldn’t really be ourselves without him. And, yes, that comparison may be a little extreme. I sincerely doubt Foucault ever said “avada kedavra” in his entire life, but he is scary because his work is dense, wide-ranging, and full of it’s own language of terms and lingo. And, yet, the man was definitely brilliant, and in a lot of ways, the biggest influence on modern humanities studies.
This semester, I’ve gotten the chance to study Foucault and many others through my literary theory and criticism class. And while many groan merely at the thought of literary theory, I absolutely love it. The class experience has been the quintessential example of why I came to Drake: a brilliant professor teaching something I’m really passionate about with a small enough class that I can have a really active role in class discussions. Starting with the ancient Greeks, we’ve moved through the history of literary study examining the works of theorist from Virginia Woolf to Edward Said. And I’ve learned absolutely a ton along the way.
I’m so grateful for this experience partially because I may not get many others like it. Since I won’t be able to go to grad school, I’m counting on my Drake classes to present me with some of the higher level studies I’d otherwise be missing. The base of literary knowledge I’ve gained in this class has informed the way I see the arts and even content in my other classes. It’s good stuff to know. Also just so that if I ever go to a super-hip artsy dinner party I can join in the conversation with a Marxist reading of The Great Gatsby or something. (Clearly I’ve never been to one of those parties, but I’m assuming there are people in knit hats by the vegan food table talking about such things).
But honestly, this class has presented me with more that just fuel for snobby dinner parties. I’ve gained real knowledge in that I’ve had to work really hard to understand some of the content, but it’s been more than worth it. I’ve seen myself challenged in new ways in English studies and as a result, I know I’ve grown as a student and a thinker. And sorry if that sounds like a lame motivational poster for never giving up on learning, but it’s true. This is one class where I’m just really excited to go learn, even if that learning involves a certain long-winded fellow named Foucault.