If One Only Remembers to Turn On The Light (More Light!)

by Nicole Crashell on March 12, 2017

Over the past ten weeks, I’ve taken a class that has over 4,000 pages of prerequisite reading, and almost 20 hours of prerequisite films. We’ve examined the internal consistency of all that material and examined its cultural impact, including the way it’s effected our own lives. The final project is a ten- to twelve-page research paper. The name of this course? Thinking About Harry Potter.

Believe it or not, this class wasn’t the reason I decided to come to Lawrence—I didn’t even know about it before the winter of my freshman year, though it certainly would have made me try even harder with my application. But once I did hear that it existed, I was sold.

The first day of the class—which is listed as History 281, appears on the syllabus every other year, and meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays—was a little surreal. Most of the people sitting around me were strangers—how had I managed to walk around campus for a year and a half without knowing that I was brushing shoulders with a bunch of people who were just as nerdy as I was? Within the hour, several people had mentioned Harry Potter minutiae that I had been sure I was weird for knowing. Yet here I was, in a class of almost thirty, realizing that everyone else in the room shared that knowledge—and probably the dawning realization, too, that we were all gigantic dorks.

And it only got better from there. We’ve had discussions about our experiences growing up with the series, the way the books and movies fit into different literary and film genres, and just what would have happened if (spoiler alert) Harry really had died at the end of Deathly Hallows. The readings we’ve done for homework have explored the true nature of Sirius Black’s mind—when he’s Padfoot, is his brain human or dog?—and analyzed what the series says about the state of education in our modern world. From the lighthearted to more serious topics, it’s been a blast to look at the series in a new way, from a multitude of angles that most people would never consider applying to a series written largely for children.

The final paper requires us to pick one of those topics that we’ve touched on in class and develop it more thoroughly. My paper (due on Wednesday) is on the way fans respond to the series through fanfiction; my friend is writing about the portrayal and biology of magical creatures in both the books and movies, and the student who originally told me about the class wrote her essay on the representation of female characters. There’s definitely something for everyone: if you like Harry Potter, you’re already halfway there.

So, no, I didn’t know about Thinking About Harry Potter before I made my admission deposit, but I wasn’t surprised when I found out that Lawrence offered a course like this. It seems to fit with the vibe Lawrence gives—love what you love, and be proud of it.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Three Choirs, endless musical opportunities

by Charlotte Noble on February 28, 2017

A lot of people don’t believe me when I tell them I spend 4 hours a week attending a 1 unit class. And a lot of people doubt that I don’t dread (most the time) going to this class. Then again, a lot of people aren’t involved in musical ensembles–namely choir. Despite being required because of my Vocal Performance major, I have had the honor of being involved in LU’s choir program all three years I’ve been here, and would love to shed some light (this is a pun b/c Light was the theme of our last concert) on the subject.

Often while talking with prospective students, someone will say “I’ve been singing since I was a lil munchkin, and in choir all four years of high school! But my greatest passion is biomedical engineering, and I won’t be able to minor in music because I’m also a whiz at gender studies, please tell me there is some way I won’t have to give up my love of singing!” Well, overly multi-interested prospie, do I have good news for you. Here at Lawrence we have three choirs, ALL open to ALL majors. Yes, both Viking Chorale and the advanced groups–Cantala and Concert Choir–are open to any major or degree program, you name it. That being said, the advanced ensembles often have more music majors on their roster for somewhat obvious reasons.

And how does one become involved in this illustrious program? 2 ways.

1. Just sing (I mean… sign*) up.

All you need is a voice and a desire to share it with the world to become a member of Viking Chorale. This choir meets twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays with Dr. Stephen Sieck as conductor to prepare pieces to sing at our many concerts through the year. Despite being the “ya’ll come” choir, I am always beyond impressed with the artistry this group presents,  and their ability to tackle some difficult works. The size of the choir is based on how many people want to be a part of it, and while you may be asked to sing for Dr. Sieck for voicing reasons, you do not need to audition.

2. Audition

During spring term of the previous year, auditions are held for returning students (new students can audition when they arrive on campus in the fall) for the (more) advanced choirs–Cantala and Concert Choir. These choirs meet four days a week, Monday-Thursday, and tackle beautiful pieces as well as larger works of oratorio. They perform in the same concerts as Viking Chorale, and even get to wear matching gowns/tuxedos. Although my view is a little biased by many auditions of the past, this audition is pretty relaxed, but usually contains some sight reading, vocal exercises, tonal recall (they play notes in an order, and you repeat them back) and a prepared piece chosen by the conductors.

And notice I say conductorS. Yes, Lawrence’s Choirs have T*W*O conductors, who equally work with both Cantala and Concert Choir. This includes Dr. Sieck and Dr. Phillip Swan, who both choose pieces to prepare with the choirs. While it is sometimes funny to watch your conductor run out of the room and high five the other who is entering, there are many advantages to this system. The singers of the choirs are exposed to different teaching and performing styles, and the two can collaborate alla two-heads-are-better-than-one style.

What are some of the other fabulous attributes of LU’s choirs? To name a few…

  • all concerts are live stream-able on the LU web cast! My Michigander parents love this, as do anyone who simply can’t bear the cold to make it to the chapel
  • Concert choir and Cantala members go on a retreat to Bjorklunden at the beginning of the year–very fun, highly recommended, pretty silly.
  • You get to know some talented, FAB people–I made my most incredible, life long friends in the 4:35 rehearsals, and consider myself VERY lucky.
  • You’d be able to explore music and poetry that will change your life–each concert has a theme that always seems to be what I need at that time of year.

Yes, there is really no reason not to join LU’s choir program. Of course, I may be a bit biased. This year I’ve been serving as President of Cantala, the group I’ve been a part of for three years now. But in all honesty, there are days when pulling myself off my futon for another rehearsal seems impossible, but by the end of the hour, I’m so glad I did. There is nothing like singing in a community of artists who support each other, especially here at Lawrence.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

The Center for Academic Success

February 26, 2017

A lot of buildings at Lawrence are built into the bank of the river that runs past campus, which means that sometimes you have to enter on the 4th floor, and sometimes the 1st floor is partially underground. For this reason, some students aren’t quite sure where the CAS—the Center for Academic Success—is located. Consider […]

Read the full article →

Travels to OHIO

February 21, 2017

Ever been to Ohio? Well, I went for the first time last weekend over our reading period. In case anyone is wondering, it’s a 9 hour drive to get to Columbus from Appleton, WOOHOO! The reason I drove all the way to Columbus with four of my friends is because we had our Delta Gamma […]

Read the full article →

Training to Become an Effective Leader

February 21, 2017

I don’t believe that people are born with an innate ability to be good at anything. In fact, phrases like “They were born to…”, “natural born leader” and “it’s in their blood” are amongst my many pet peeves. I refuse to believe that anyone can just be born with these magical genes that will make them […]

Read the full article →