Friday, January 23, 2009

The Class That Changed My Life: Women and Television

Not only does Erica Barmash work in our Advertising and Promotion Department, she also contributes articles to The Oliver Reader, and she is the founder of World Wide Whiskers. Erica attended New York University.

Like many people who work in publishing, I was an English major. But though I loved my literature classes, I always felt one step behind. My high school English classes were somewhat untraditional, and I never read many of the classics that other kids were forced to read at that age. Instead I took a survey of Hermann Hesse, a class on Gothic literature, and so on. It was awesome and eye-opening, but when I got to college I was very hesitant to speak up in class discussions, fearing that I was missing some crucial piece of literary knowledge that was the key to smart comments.

I spent most of my four years shyly taking notes, until senior year and the class that changed my life: Women in Television. I love television more than almost anything else in the world. I read TV Guide for fun as a kid and was even named after two soap opera characters. Finally, there was a class where I knew I had the proper background, where I knew that my insights were worthy. Classes were spent watching episodes of Oprah, Buffy, and Roseanne. I used books like Full of Secrets: Critical Approaches to Twin Peaks to write my papers and learned that I could apply the critical thinking skills I had learned in my English classes to just about anything.

It came too close to the end of my college career to make too much of a difference there, but Women in Television helped me conquer my fear of speaking up for good, and that truly changed my life.

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