Thursday, September 1, 2011

European History

As I finished PhD coursework awhile ago and am working toward my dissertation, thinking back on some of the classes I've taken over my illustrious college career, two thoughts come to mind. First is the quote from Tommy Boy, "You know a lot of people go to college for seven years", followed by Richard's retort, "I know; they're called doctors". I'll soon enough be a doctor, but the kind that doesn't help people. Second, I wondered if I could remember my teacher, something I learned, or anything at all about every college class I had.

That seems like a tall order, since I've taken close to 90 classes over the last who knows how many years. So I thought it would be interesting to blog something about every college class I've taken. To start off, I took several AP classes in high school, and since those show up on the college transcript, I'm counting them.

The first college class I ever had was European History, my sophomore year in high school. I wondered what I was getting myself into when receiving an assignment to write a paper about the book Ivanhoe over the summer. I like to read, so that much wasn't a huge problem, but analyzing the development of chivalry was probably a bit beyond most of us at the time. I doubt there's any way to find the paper I wrote. It was probably as good as anything the average freshman might hand in, that is to say, not very good, but a good way as a teacher to quickly get a feel for the students in your class.

It was a difficult class, yet entertaining. It provided a lot of background for many parts of my life. I have to wonder if they still cover as much religious content in the class as they did when I took it, but I would think they would have to. So many major events going back several hundred years to a thousand years ago were so highly influenced by the church, that it is impossible to recount the history without including it.

We learned about everything from the Great Schism, to protestant reformers such as Martin Luther and his 95 Theses, to the dysfunctional royal families of England (okay, most countries, not just England), to the contrasting doctrines of transubstantiation and consubstantiation.

Various political terminology was covered in the class, with the naming of conservative and liberal political groups being based on the French National Assembly, where the differing parties sat in the right and left wings of the chamber, respectively. Related to this legislative body, not to go into all the details, would be the storming of the Bastille, which happened on my birthday in 1789, and the beginnings of the process to dismantle the system of nobility and create a constitution.

Most memorable, for better or worse, may have been watching Month Python and the Holy Grail after the AP test was over. Hey, once the test is done, it's a party until the end of the school year, right? I made some great friends in that class that would last throughout high school and beyond.

No comments: