Thinking back, I don't have a clue of where to begin my description of this course, nor my experience when taking it. We started out the first day by listening to a five minute video of Bansky's plush animal slaughterhouse truck (a slaughterhouse truck filled with children's stuffed animals driving around to a recording of animals wailing), kicked off our assignments by writing from the perspective of a barnacle goose, and wrapped up the course by reading The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?, a play about a husband/father who is in love and sexually intimate with a goat. It was an unusual class to say the least, but one which stretched my mind and understanding of anthropomorphic hierarchical structures beyond where any other class had taken me. During the dark, cloudy days of Winter quarter (which usually make it difficult to keep one's eyes open during class), our hour-and-a-half long sessions seemed to go by before I even had the chance to blink; I remember having at least one epiphany within each ten minutes that passed. With the instructor, Dr. Richard Block's, guidance, we dissected each text assigned until the very letters composing each word fit within the greater analytical picture. The close-reading strategies he instilled within us are tools which I have utilized in all subsequent projects during my time at university.
This class also terrified me, being a GPA-obsessed sophomore at the time I took it. One statement Dr. Block made multiple times throughout the quarter is that he found it to be a tremendous shame when instructors at public universities didn't set high standards for the quality of essay, that they were squandering away students' potential because sometimes it is easier not to push. He pushed. Every time I thought I had met the bar and closed my eyes to take a breath, I opened them to find it set higher (and my grade point average in the class lower). I couldn't bring myself to disagree with his assessment though. As much as I would have preferred to sit at home bemoaning the notion that his grading was unfair, I started to see the gaps in my logic he observed and the rebuttals to my arguments for which I had not accounted. I learned the meaning of true revision in this course and the value of having someone tell you the equivalent of, "No, your work is not good enough, and I expect you to make it as such because you are capable of good enough and better."
The value of these lessons, although pretty much life changing, didn't deter my brain from panicking about my final grade, and so Dr. Block received eight extra credit assignments (we were allowed to turn is as many of these as we wanted, each worth .1 added to our GPA) stacked atop the final version of an essay that you can read below. In case you're wondering why there is a picture of a cat at the top of this page and don't the time or want to check out this paper, the primary text I analyzed is a poem by T.S. Eliot titled "The Naming of Cats."