Thursday, October 15, 2009

Guest entry! Maia Ramnath and Intro to Global Histories students

Dear students, when we first posted Professor Ramnath's guest entry, our blog did not allow comments. We've changed that and are re-posting, so if you would like to contribute a comment as she invites you to, please do!

Professor Ramnath introduces and the students contribute below...

After wrestling all week with what to post on the department blog-- should I try to convey my daily attempts to integrate theory and practice, to study the historical translation of ideas into action, to translate ideas into action myself, to embody imagination, to seek both physical and intellectual exertion through political and artistic challenge? Should I offer random observations on things seen, heard or eaten? What would best represent a slice of Draper life?-- I decided to pass the buck. Or, as we say in pedagogy, I employed the Socratic method. I put these two questions to my students: What is the most interesting thing you've done in the past month or plan to do in the next month? What is the coolest insight you've read, heard, or thought in any of your classes so far this semester? Their answers form the beginning of a mosaic. Please feel free to add to it.

Most exciting thing that's happened to me in the past two months: moving to New York hands down!!! I love this city. I've ran into some cool actors, got some great food, passed ridiculous amounts of time at GOOD coffee shops. I love the city and the city loves me back.
insight...I'd have to go with my most beloved philosopher, the only economist I can read and enjoy, Karl Marx. Just rereading him today and got to the last of his Theses on Feuerbach, "Philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it" If he only knew how much and what way his views changed the world...

The most interesting thing I did this month was to see Maurice Sendak's original drawings and illustrations for "Where the Wild Things Are" at the Animazing Gallery in Soho and the Morgan Library. Hopefully, the movie will be just as interesting. My most interesting new insight is that now I think way too much about Orientalism and Colonization. Just because Max becomes king of the "Wild Things" doesn't necessarily mean it's an allegory about colonizing powers.....

Flava Flav came into the place where I work and talked about spiritualism to me for 20 minutes. He was wearing that giant clock. has made me rethink our discussion of capitalism, of which I am not a fan, since if we didn't have capitalism, we would definitely not have Flava Flav in his present evolution. Mostly, I have considered the fact that if a man wearing a clock can make money in capitalism, who am I to judge, and further, if this makes capitalism the most brilliant or most absurd system in the world.

I spoke to a Chinese man who plays the violin on the subway. I always see him when I come home. He say he does not do it for tips. He plays for the people who come home after work. He says the music he plays is melancholy and he means it to be that way. It makes me want to cry, but in a good way-to release the toxins of the day, the hustle, the bustle, the faking, the making, the taking, the rush, the maze, the crazy, the insanity, the hopelessness, the apathy, the shit, the rats, the roaches, he plays it away like a pied piper with his violin. Classical-music used as a weapon against apathy.
Global history is blowing my mind.

The most interesting thing I've done in the last month is see Vermeer's Milkmaid at the Met. The coolest insight I've had in class is that Clement Clarke Moore, the guy who wrote the Night Before Christmas, was also a Hebrew scholar and an abolitionist.

The coolest thing I've done recently was go to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine for the Feast of St. Francis and Blessing of the Animals. I've never been to a church service of any denomination with a camel before! I don't have any specific insights- rather, I just have a general appreciation for my Draper courses- Intro to Art Worlds and Intro to Global Histories. We've studied terms like globalism and modernity, ideas which I thought I could explain before but now realize have no clear cut definitions.

A group of friends and I went on a three day canoe trip at the Delaware Water Gap which turned into something more or less like a three day "survival" trip. The coolest thing I learned in a class is that Thomas Hobbes, according to the professor, didn't believe in God, despite his abundant references in the Leviathan.

The most interesting thing I have done, or will do, is go to my church that is in Times Square that's run by 15 people who came from Oregon 2 years ago. The most interesting thing I've thought in class is that I realize how interesting certain things are to me, and how those same things aren't interesting to others.

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