Monday, November 13, 2006

Breaking Barriers, or An Undergraduate In a Graduate level class

Barriers are everywhere. Some are tangible. Some are invisible or imagined but no less daunting than the psychical ones.

Police tape around a crime scene. The only teenage girl in a highschool weight training class. The dividers put up in the once vaunted 'open class rooms'. A student with LDs in honors classes. The glass between an inmate and the family visiting them. A English major in a upper level chemistry class. A child safety gate.

If I'm approved by my Professor (and boy, do I wish the undergrad advisor had just told me to talk to him, since I have two other classes with him, instead of forwarding it to him but that's a different issue), I'll be crossing one of those invisible barriers. I've been told by several people since those wee hours of Friday morning that I have a lot of 'gaul', 'nerve', 'balls', and 'common sense'. Not mention a very strong look of disapproval from a senior and a lecture about how I'd ruined my chances of ever getting a letter of recommendation from anyone in the English department, that how dare I even think about a 5000 level class, and that it just isn't done.

Have I crossed a line?

Part of me wants to know why shouldn't I request approval for a class I want to take? I've always done so in the past, both in high school and at University. The worst that happens is that my Professor says no, that I'm not ready for the class. I'm not going to beat my breast, rend my clothing and wail like the a figure from Greek Tragedy. I sent a very nice polite email to the English advisor and acknowledged that it was a graduate level class and I would more than understand being turned down.

But there is another part of me that worries that I have crossed a line. That I look arrogant, naive, and foolish. That this is something that just isn't done.

More than that, part of me worries now that I was fooling myself and that I wouldn't be able to handle it. I'm struggling with my thesis for my paper on Chaucer's use of female assent in marriage and which books of the Canterbury tales to narrow my focus to. So how can I dare think that I could handle Chaucer's Literary Geography? I have doubts where I once had none.

Is a undergraduate trying to take a graduate level class a unpardonable sin? Will I be made to sew a red letter of some sort to my clothing? Your thoughts?

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