Beginning/s

I’ve gone back to school, as everybody keeps saying.

It all, finally, became real when I received my student card yesterday, after having sat in line for half an hour with the expectant throng of fellow inductees. I now have literal access to the College and can begin to take my £3,500-worth of knowledge and experience from Goldsmith’s. That may sound ungrateful, but it’s not meant to be. It’s more trying to keep perspective.

Just before the cards were minted and we were added to the list of potential alumna, there was the first meeting of the group of students on the course with the tutors. They seem like a good, fairly mixed bunch of people, quite a few from around Europe and one or two internationals (and a total of 10 full-time regardless of the prospectus saying only 6 – I can only assume that there is an assumption of attrition of some kind? Or they just can’t say no).

After an introduction to the College and the Course by the Programme Leader, Astrid Schmetterling, we were asked to talk a little about ourselves by way of introduction. I burbled on as per normal – I think I made some sense. Some of the students had very impressive CVs behind them, a few having been quite heavily involved in the art-scene from the places they had come from.

The course has four strands – the Core course, the Labs, the Option Courses and the Special Subjects. The first two are specific to us, while the Options and Specials are shared with other courses. Each strand is a 2 hour period each week, which for the Options and Specials I think may be split into an hour lecture and an hour seminar.

The Core course ‘aims to introduce you to contemporary approaches and concepts in the historicisation and theorisation of art’, moving from the tradition, though modernist to postmodernist approaches to the discipline. The Labs, as far as I understand them (which obviously suggests that I don’t completely), are based more on discussions/events, which may include studio/gallery visits and more experimental approaches to the subject – so it may just mean they’re a period in which pretty much anything can happen, unconstrained by the formalities of the lecture/seminar structure. As an example, for the first Lab we have been asked to bring in 6 things that we can use to give an expanded presentation about ourselves.

The Options and Specials are a series of lectures round specific topics from which you choose one of each. Some of these are of more interest to me than others, as you would expect. I’m particularly taken by the Special entitled ‘Philosophy and . . .’ (presented by Professor Alex Duttman), although Sexual Poetics (Dr Lynn Turner) also looks good. They both appeal to my need to flesh out my knowledge and understanding of recent approaches to aesthetics, on the one hand philosophically and on the other with respect to gender studies and related topics. My interest in the latter may also stem from my overall prurience, but why fight it?

My major concern with these optional courses is related to the timetable, if I choose the two I think I will choose I am looking at 6 hours straight lectures on one day (they take place straight after the Core course). This seems excessive, but unavoidable. Next week we have been encouraged to sit in on the first sessions of as many of the options as we think we may be interested in to help us make our minds up, so we will see how that affects my choices.