Tag Archives: university

Musings: Less Stress and More Progress

Hello, readers!

I mean to post something on the 10th, as I’ve done these past couple of months, but it so happened I was dead tired on Wednesday. It was a long, long day.

What in general has kept me busy is, of course, school. Candidate’s essay needs to be handed in on the 23rd, while keeping in mind that there is a pub crawl on the 18th; a stylistics essay on one of D.H. Lawrence’s short stories needs to be handed in on Monday; and then there’s the course on post-modern historical novel…

The candidate’s essay is going well, I think. I’m only missing the conclusion, and some of the analysis needs to be elaborated on, but I think I can manage everything by the end of next week. Let me tell you, it will be a big relief!

My edition of Vanity Fair – can you tell I do a lot of marking?

My copy of Vanity Fair – can you tell I do a lot of marking?

As books go, there is little to tell. I spent some time rereading Red Seas Under Red Skies once again, and have just started Sanderson’s Warbreaker. I’ve only read the prologue, but it sounds fairly promising. I’m not big on Sanderson’s style, and lately fantasy has been a bit difficult to access for some reason, but it feels very good. It’s slowly sucking me in, just like the Mistborn trilogy did.

I’m currently trying to decide what to put on my summer reading list. As I’m practically out of school from the beginning of May, I’m probably including said month in the summer. I’ve ordered some books from BookDepository, and am really excited to get them! (King of Thorns, Lynn! I finally gave up on finding the edition I want and just ordered what was available!)

This has been a brief reminder that I’m still alive and still updating. I will think of something fun for May to make up for the long silences!

I hope your spring weather is better than mine – Finland is getting the usual second winter after a week of beautiful spring. There’s been snow and cold weather. Today’s a bit better, as it’s not cold but merely cloudy!

Anyway: happy spring!


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Musings: On Proseminar and Heroes

Hello friends!

Reading has been slow, mostly because I have several fairly time-consuming assignments for school that need doing: the proseminar paper, a literary essay, and exchange application. The latter is progressing very slowly though, but I’m doing my best to hand it in on time  – because I really fancy the idea of going to the UK for a year!

But now you’ll get a little bit of ranting about the candidate’s essay. It’s getting slightly muddled in my head. I’m having trouble trying to decide on the structure, and figuring out whether I should alter the thesis statement slightly (which would lead to more trouble with the structure) or not. You see, I have noticed that there is something very interesting in the George/Amelia/William plot: George and Amelia’s relationship, while not a romance, has a lot of the elements. Their courtship is clearly described, there is a barrier, an attraction, a declaration, a betrothal – but the point of ritual death turns out to be insurmountable and recognition comes too late. A romance needs a happy ending, and there is none for the Osbornes. What is wonderful is that the reader knows all the time that this is not a romance plot, despite it exhibiting the elements: George Osborne’s character is not that of a hero, and therefore he can’t be the heroine’s match. According to Kay Mussell in Fantasy and Reconciliation, the qualities of a hero are among other things:

  • Eases the heroine’s transition from childhood to adulthood, from father to husband
  • Authority figure; multiple functions
    • Protects heroine from consequences of immature behaviour
    • Teaches her to behave in an appropriate manner as his wife
  • Must be powerful in traditionally masculine qualities while retaining sensitivity to recognize the heroine’s needs
  • Hero and heroine have complementary qualities instead of identical traits, but both place a value on domesticity and love
  • Possesses great skill and status (top of profession or landed gentry)
  • Self-motivated, stable, exciting; resources to support a family in comfort
  • Suitability as head of a family

(from my notes on Mussell; there are other qualities as well but all are not relevant to Vanity Fair)

William, unlike George, is all of these things. Therefore it’s fairly obvious to the reader that he deserves Amelia more than George does.

The problem is, bringing this comparison up would be tricky considering the structure, and besides, it’s only a 15–20 page paper. If I had my way, it would be much longer…

Well, that was my rant this time. You get another picture of the books I’m using at the moment, because just text can be a bit boring:

Research material

There’s one there that might actually be of no use, but we’ll see.

I hope to see you guys soon again – I intend to write a rant/review of the 2005 Pride and Prejudice film in honour of the book’s 200th birthday (I know, I know, the actual day is long gone, but it’s still the right year!) and I hope to get to that soon!

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Musings: Picking books and proseminar

Hello readers!

I’ve been very quiet for a long time. Apologies for that. The silence is due to two things: 1) Holidays have made me super lazy and phlegmatic, and 2) nothing has really happened. I’ve been reading very slowly, which might be due to the killer reading schedule I was on for the Victorian novel bit of the proseminar and couldn’t really shake once that was over. You get used to having a deadline with books, and it’s nice to get things read, but that also takes away some of the enjoyment. Much depends on the book, too, of course: if it sucks you in like a really good book does, you’ll read it pretty fast anyway.

I tried reading John Gardner’s Moriarty. When after six days I wasn’t even halfway through and found myself groaning whenever the book caught my eye, I decided to give it up. I hate to give up on a book, but it just wasn’t working. Sorry, Mr Gardner – your style wasn’t for me, at least not now. I’ll probably try again sometime in the future, when I actually feel like it.

Instead, I returned to the Victorians in the form of Sherlock Holmes, and it felt infinitely better. So I made a decision: this year, I will try and not force myself to read anything I don’t feel like reading. I can reread all I like, pick anything I want from the library without thinking about the few dozen books that are waiting for me at home, or, if I so choose, read several books at a time. The last one is a huge decision, because I’ve been reluctant to do that for ages. Uni courses forced me to do it in the fall term – that’s what you get, taking so many literature courses that include weekly reading – and I’m now convinced that it’s okay.

One reason for reading for my own pleasure whatever the heck I feel like reading is the proseminar and, consequently, the dreaded bachelor’s thesis (or candidate’s essay or prosem paper, I don’t really know what it’s supposed to be called) which I will need to hand in around the end of April. My chosen work is William Thackeray’s Vanity Fair, and my focus on the romance plot in it. Yup, that’s right. I’m going to be analyzing the whole George-Amelia-William situation. It’s going to be heaps of fun, if only I could manage to decide from where to start…

Spring term starts next Monday, and I’m thrilled to get back to routine and lectures and actual studying. The third period – the first half of the term – is a particular delight: I have only four lectures a week, all of them in English! This includes prosem (surprise!), Academic Writing with one of my favourite lecturers and a really good friend, and a course on Medieval and Early Modern Ireland.

So if I manage only end of month posts and maybe one other post a month, you’ll know why that is. And it might happen that the other post is ranting about research or Vanity Fair or writing. For that, I apologise in advance. Then again, the post titles will tell you what they include and you can skip them.

I still haven’t decided my bi-monthly theme for this year. I suppose I could do Authors, Book-to-Film Adaptations, or Book Covers. We’ll see. For the moment, I’m leaning towards authors.

This post is ridiculously long. If you got to the end, I salute you! There’s no proper reward for doing that, though – sorry about that. Instead you get a picture of my background reading pile. (Had to take one back to the library as someone had reserved it – but I’ll either reserve it again or buy my own, because it’s a very interesting book! There’s also a couple more books I need to pick up from the library.)

Prosem research


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Musings: Middlemarch and Final Paper Thoughts

Let me tell you something. If you ever decide to read Middlemarch, take longer than a week. I just went through the book in six days, and although there’s nothing really wrong with the book I felt a strong loathing towards it on maybe four of those days. This mostly happened around 10PM when I still had fifty pages to read and couldn’t care less about the elections or railways and just wanted to be done with it and go to bed.

I must have consumed about thirty cups of tea reading this. Almost started on coffee, which I don’t like, but couldn’t be bothered in the end.

It was never my intention to work extensively on this book, but now I know for certain I won’t be writing my paper on it. Nope. Won’t happen, although I’d like the things that resonate “Silly Novels by Lady Novelists” – goes to show how the tradition of Mary Sues is a long one! But no. I have yet to read Vanity Fair, but I’m fully prepared to like it and work with it.

A very stupid although tempting idea presented itself to me the other night. It would be interesting to compare Vanity Fair and War and Peace, as they both take place during the Napoleonic Wars and concern high society. It would be awesome, but also so much work that I shudder to think about it. I’ll have to see again after reading the book, but comparing it to Northanger Abbey or Sense and Sensibility seems like a much more manageable idea.

Besides, one of the reasons I chose my beloved major is that I could read Jane Austen and claim I was studying. Whenever that is possible, I’d very much like to take the opportunity.

Onwards I go. Next up on the reading list is North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. I plan to manage that in four days so I can have the weekend for A) text analysis and B) myself.

I’ll see you next weekend with the Books in September post!


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New Main Library of University of Helsinki – The First Impression

As I’ve already said a couple of times, I’m excited that school is starting again. A huge part of it has been the fact that – yes, you read the title, you know already – we have a new main library! There used to be several smaller libraries scattered around the central campus, but now there’s only this new beauty and the National Library. As fond as I was of the little ones and the student library, now that I have seen the new system I’m ready to fall head over heels.

For better researched info, visit Kay’s blog and see what she says. I’m here just to enthuse.

First of all, this is the entrance on Fabianinkatu. (All pictures taken today by yours truly!)

It’s just so beautiful. The student library next door looks like some sort of license office.

Before visiting the library myself I ran into a friend who told me she got lost twice during the twenty minutes she spent in the building. I don’t know how she managed that – I found everything I wanted (fifth floor, modern languages and arts). There’s a multitude of floors, and I only visited a few of them.

The fifth floor, my future home, has an awesome view! You can see Ateneum and the second biggest movie theatre!

There’s all sort of nooks and corners for reading, and a lot of table space for working. For once I feel I could actually pack my laptop and go there to write an essay. You know – as all the reference material could actually fit on the table!

And the check-out machines. Oh gods. They read the barcode on your library card. That’s nothing out of the ordinary, of course. But wait! There’s more! There’s no barcodes on the books, no chips that you can see, sometimes not even titles on covers, nothing. You just plunk it on the machine, and it knows which book it is! I just want to keep checking out books because it’s beyond awesome. A friend of mine then informed me that in Turku (an old University town) this kind of technology is used in every library. Don’t know why Helsinki is so far behind – I want this everywhere! Magic!

So that’s it for now. I didn’t do a very extensive exploration of the place, as it’s huge and we were getting impatient after having been around Uni for two hours already, but I’ll be going back and perhaps building a nest.

Lectures start tomorrow. Getting restless with excitement!


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