July academic update

Well, it’s been a while since I posted about my academic progress, so here goes!

I’m half-way through my third class after a gentle virtual return to college. I eased in with DRAM-107, Study of Filmed Plays, over the Spring semester, then DRAM-150, Cinema as Art and Communication 1 (silent era through the 1960s), during the first summer session. I’m now deep into DRAM-151, Cinema as Art and Communication 2 (1970-present). All these classes were offered online, through the San Diego Community College District. They are all live, three-unit, letter-graded, UC/CSU-transferable courses that compress 16 weeks of content into six to eight weeks, so they’re actually very intense.

The reason I chose them was to backfill my knowledge of drama and film, to prepare for a potential master’s program in Shakespeare, because filmed versions of Shakespeare’s plays span the entire history of cinema and reach far more people than live productions can. I realized that my formal education was heavy on written literature but light on performance, and the living Shakespeare is all about performance.

The online community college experience has been everything I hoped for. The professors have all been intimidatingly first-rate, I’m talking serious credentials and credibility here. And, I’ve learned a lot from fellow students too because a lot of them are Film or Drama majors. I learned an organized way to analyze plays and filmed versions of plays as related, but separate, creations. I learned about film conventions and cinemagraphic techniques, and how they can be used or subverted to convey messages. And, I’ve studied a lot of incredible films and live performances.

In DRAM-107, we studied The Glass Menagerie, Zoot Suit, Fences, Heathers (live), Sweat (live), Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, Shakespeare In Love, Romeo + Juliet, Rent, Six Characters in Search of an Author, and Credible (live).

In DRAM-150, we studied Metropolis, Modern Times, Double Indemnity, Citizen Kane, All About Eve, Rear Window, and for my film analysis final paper I chose Charade. I needed a break from all the heavy stuff, and a murder mystery/thriller/romantic comedy was perfect.

So far in DRAM-151, we’ve studied Get Out, The Godfather, Brokeback Mountain, The Big Lebowski, Pulp Fiction, Pan’s Labyrinth, and Saving Private Ryan, with Raging Bull, Do The Right Thing, and Tootsie still to come, plus one more film of my own choosing for a final analysis paper. Right now, I’m dithering between Sliding Doors, to examine its two-realities-in-one-timespace narrative structure, and Ran, because it’s Kurosawa’s King Lear.

The other big benefit to these classes, is updating my academic transcript. Before last spring, my transcript ended with my bachelor’s degree in 1985. Now I have some fresh entries showing recent college classes (and a GPA of 4.0) relevant to my desired course of study. Anything I can do to boost a hypothetical master’s application can’t be bad, because I’ll be competing with recent Literature and English grads.

Ooo ooo, and this is really really huge: both of my professors from the classes I’ve completed agreed to be academic references for me. Wow! But I should strike while the iron is hot, so I’ll be spending some time over the next few weeks researching grants and scholarships, because without significant financial assistance, there’s just no way until our kids are through college.

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