UniDiary Day 18: Oral… History

Oral History
Lord of the Ums: Return of the Ums

We had a guest lecturer in English literature today. I started the hour optimistically, but that quickly dissipated. He waited until everyone had unpacked and settled down… Then made the people on the back two rows move to the front of the lecture hall.

Look, I don’t have a problem with sitting at the front. Yes, it makes my eyes go a bit squiffy because of the screens, but I can deal with it. I DO have a problem with him waiting until we were ready for class to start. Instead of diving into his lecture, he stood smugly at the front of the class, watching us all shift around. It felt like a great excuse to do less work.

I also had a problem with the fact that he ums just as much as the lecturer we have for our other unit. Within moments I nearly headbutted my desk. One of them is bad enough, but I can’t deal with a double whammy.

Our normal lecturer starts late and finishes early, and the guest did, too (despite all the moving around). When leaving the lecture hall, a couple of my classmates said they had no idea what had just happened. I’m doing a lot of extra reading, so the lectures are slotting in nicely with that, but I am worried about my classmates with our lecturers constantly rushing.

The Imitation of Life:

Another week, another film I’ve never heard of before. This time we’re focusing on Douglas Sirk’s ‘The Imitation of Life’ (1959). I think I enjoyed it more than last week’s film, but nothing’s beaten ‘Mulholland Drive’ for me (yet). That was confusing as all hell, but at least it held my attention. I found this one interesting because it explored racism closely. However, I couldn’t find much film terminology to talk about: I focused almost entirely on the plot.

I really wish the film screenings weren’t compulsory, because I feel I’d get a lot more out of watching it independently. It allows you to pause and rewind, really take your time getting in-depth notes, instead of rushing. I also find my attention span drifts after two hours sat completely still… At least when I’m watching it in my flat I can shift positions, getting nice and comfortable.

We have to create a presentation for 40% of our grade, using one of the first six films we study this semester. No matter how interesting I found ‘The Imitation of Life’, I’m definitely not focusing on it.

Memories are fragile:

I only signed up to join the Oral History team because I thought it would help with my interview skills for journalism. Then I dropped journalism. Whoops.

I’m not studying journalism, but I’m still planning on doing it. (At some point. Maybe). So I decided to attend the two training sessions, even if I don’t end up doing any of the interviewing.

Within the first five minutes, we were up and organising ourselves into a line. Distance from our birthplace to Hatfield, shortest to longest. Now, this was tricky for me, because I’m terrible at geography. Luckily, I found a girl from Bath – only thirty minutes away from Swindon by train – so I knew I was in vaguely the right place.

Then we had to do our best to estimate two minutes. Closing our eyes, we had to put our hands up when we thought we’d reached the right number. I counted my first few seconds too slowly, so I raised my hand when I got to 115 instead of 120. Turns out, I raised my hand exactly on two minutes. That’s probably one of greatest things I’ve achieved in my entire life.

I didn’t actually get my welcome email, so I only knew the room number and the time. Turns out, we were meant to take headphones along so that we could test out the recording equipment. I fell at the first hurdle! Our next training session is in two weeks, though: I’m definitely going to remember my headphones then.

I’m not sure whether I feel confident enough to interview people, but I had fun learning about my partner. Hopefully, as my confidence builds over the coming weeks, I’ll feel brave enough to interview at least one subject. It’s a great learning experience, if nothing else.

It’s gonna be a long night:

Last Wednesday, things got very out of hand. I’m expecting it to happen again, even though I won’t be happy when it does. Two of my flatmates have been out to football, and another has been to see Emeli Sandé, so I’m guessing they’re all going to doze off pretty quickly.

However, Sean Kingston’s appearing at The Forum tonight. Honestly? I kind of wish I wasn’t missing it. Just imagine hearing ‘Beautiful Girls’ live! How cool would that be?! But that means that the flatmates that ARE going to see him are probably going to be loud when they get back, and that’s going to turn me into a huge grumpus.

Oh well. I survived last week, I’ll survive this week. At least it won’t be a surprise this time…