These are the Classes I’m Taking in My Final Semester of Graduate School

posted in: School 17
My alma mater: The Art Institute of Chicago, 2014. Photo by Nicholas Hartmann via Wikipedia.



It’s happening. I’ve got one semester left of graduate school before I become a master. Can you stand it??

Classes for spring term, my final term at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) start this Thursday. Exactly how I’m going to wedge school back into my ever-busy schedule is a puzzle, I won’t lie. But I will make it work. I must. I don’t have a choice if I want to be a master, which I do. I mean, I want to get this degree just so I can walk around in Total Mastery and just always know how to do everything and never make mistakes and live in this constant state of having arrived. That’s what I’ve been writing huge tuition checks for, isn’t it? That’s what happens when you get your master’s, right? Total Mastery with Perpetual Arrival?

While we’re waiting for that to happen, wanna know what classes I’m taking??

Sharing my schedule might not sound interesting to everyone, but I’ve personally always loved to hear what courses people select for their school experience. It’s like, “Woah, you got into Advanced Trigonometry for Mid-Oceanic Systems Design? That’s amazing!” or “Wow, they added a section of Shakespeare IV: Advanced Tragedy from 1-4 p.m. on Tuesdays?? I’m in the Elemental Architectural Practicum Seminar on Tuesdays … I wonder if I can switch …”

(No? Anyone? Just me?)

My spring term looks amazing — and zero trig. Aside from having the pleasure of weekly advising sessions with the mighty Jill Riddell and my personal hero (and friend), Jim McManus, I will be taking three delicious courses. Here they are, the beauts, with an excerpt from the SAIC course descriptions:

Writing: Systems of Writing Seminar
This course examines writing formulated and structured according to systems of thought and expression, derived from various disciplines and technologies including alphabets, calendars, palimpsests, experiments, collections, and translations. 

Art History: Continuing Histories in Fiber
This course locates current practice and discourse in fiber and material studies within a contemporary history of the field. Focusing primarily on the period from the 1950s onward, the first part of the course will emphasize important moments in the emergence of Fiber as a field of practice and theory during the 1960s and 1970s, through the presentation of seminal texts, exhibitions, and artist works. We will study the field as it formed in a relationship to related movements in art and politics, and in particular, to craft, minimalism and conceptual art, and feminism. 

Writing: ‘What It Wants’ (Workshop)
This workshop explores the notion that each piece of writing has its own needs. The writer’s role, then, is to get out of the way and let the piece emerge. As memoirist and poet Patricia Hampl notes, it’s a matter of paying attention to “what it wants, not what I want.” With this in mind, writers/artists … will have an opportunity to investigate not only the genesis of their work but also the choices made along the way to completion.

I’m so stoked.

I’m less stoked to apprehend the fact that this semester requires that I put my thesis together. I’m thinking of printing out the entirety of the ol’ PG and turning her in. This blog is basically a thesis, right? And SAIC is an art school. They might actually let me get away with that.

Maybe if I printed out all the thousands of entries and then all of you wrote something, too, I could put everything in a huge, inflatable binder and then we’d all be famous.

I am mostly kidding.

17 Responses

  1. Tim Latimer
    | Reply

    sounds like great classes….particularly the art history (which you could probably teach 🙂 but a different perspective is good ) I am in favor of printing out the blog……as they say “why reinvent the wheel?” Have a great semester! reading about your excitement for it makes me excited as well….perhaps I should go back for my Masters

  2. Kate
    | Reply

    Magister artium

  3. Julie Brummond
    | Reply

    Wow! No wonder you are stoked. You had me at “palimpsests.” You go, girl!

  4. Jen
    | Reply

    Whether or not I like to hear about someone’s course selections is largely dependent upon how they feel about there classes. “Ugh, I’m taking Intro to Structures this semester. There’s spook much homework!” is so different from “I’m taking Intro to Structures this semester! We’re finally getting to use all that math & science to see how building work! It’s so cool!” It doesn’t matter what it is, if a person is really excited about what they’re learning next. Passion is always so attractive!
    Im an engineer; I loved my first structures class! And wouldn’t it be spook awesome to be a master forever?!
    Aside – palimpsest is a wonderful word!

  5. Jen
    | Reply

    Spook? Where did that spook come from? Spooky…

  6. Heather Hoof
    | Reply

    I read the definition of palimpsests, yet it I still don’t understand it. I would be totally lost in any of those classes.
    So fun to read your blog, so educational.
    Good luck, So nice to know that you are heading for the end after a lot of hard work.

  7. Judy Forkner
    | Reply

    I remember that excitement at the beginning of a semester–especially the LAST semester!

  8. Barb Allen
    | Reply

    Wow. No wonder you’re stoked! And who knew there is actually a course on writing systems, for pete’s sake? Plus, I had to look up palimpsest. All kinds of learning going on….

  9. Donna J Fischer
    | Reply

    Congrats on all your hard work, Mary. I know you can make it to the finish line.

  10. Marianne ten Kate
    | Reply

    I am in the clammy grip of the green-eyed monster. I would be the happiest of flies-on-the-wall in any of those classes! Perhaps your mastery will lead you to devise a Writing for Quilters seminar. After all, there’s only so much one can squeeze onto a label without making a weird hybrid half bed cover, half short story, reversible quilted textile. And imagine how that story would be treasured when the recipients cuddle under a well-loved heirloom. Your website could maintain an archive of these stories and the quilt label would need only the maker’s name, date and URL! How cool would that be? Just sayin’…

  11. Ann Bailey
    | Reply

    I wish you the very best, Mary, and that you have a trouble-free last semester filled with inspiration and fun! Prayers for peace for you.

  12. Nan Wilson
    | Reply

    I’m in! We can all contribute a definition of quilting (or some aspect of quilting; you can add your master’s perspective and discuss the state of modern quilting. Thesis!

  13. Sara Hochhauser
    | Reply

    I would love the art history class!! You are very lucky.

  14. Catherine
    | Reply

    I almost want to go back to school to take those classes. Sounds like fun. But I already have mastered my masters! Good work Mary!

  15. Mary Ann
    | Reply

    Last semester! Woohoo! I say yes, go with the blog idea but only if it includes all our erudite and scintillating comments.

  16. Martha
    | Reply

    Maybe you could take your favorite posts and appliqué them onto a quilt for your thesis. Or type it onto cloth and then make a quilt. Or do a series and hang them on a line Amish style or…

  17. Jennifer
    | Reply

    We are all palimpsests, I think, according to the second definition from Merriam-Webster (below). That definition encapsulates what I think about myself.
    Definition of palimpsest
    1 : writing material (such as a parchment or tablet) used one or more times after earlier writing has been erased
    2 : something having usually diverse layers or aspects apparent beneath the surface
    Canada … is a palimpsest, an overlay of classes and generations. —Margaret Atwood
    too short a time to get to know the palimpsest of Genevan societies, let alone those of Switzerland —George Steiner

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