Normandy Scholar Classes

First of all, please forgive me for my lax posting schedule. I have been adjusting to school et al. and loving it, but I haven’t exactly carved out a blogging time.

So, here’s one!

The first thing to know about my classes it that they all deal with World War II history, because I am in the Normandy Scholar Program.

The second thing to know about my classes is that they are extremely reading intensive, and that’s coming from someone who prides himself on his ability and voracity to read. If someone asks me what I’m doing, a statistical pie chart of my life would reveal that I’m most likely in the library.

The final thing to know about my classes it that they’re fantastic.

So, without further ado:

1. Remembering World War II (DeBacker): This class is by far the easiest of my five, and that’s because it is intended to be so. This class studies monuments, scupltures, art, museums, film, and music that was created during WWII, regarding WWII, or memorializing WWII. However, this class also serves as French 101. Every Tuesday (1/2 of our two-day-a-week classes) we learn French.

Straight up French. In fact, this Tuesday I have a quiz on some of the basics. I was so excited when I heard that we’d be learning French, because everyone is a beginner (those with experience take a seperate class), the professor is a sprightly, youthful French woman who is remarkably sweet, and French is beautiful. I already know a lot of the words for food and different cooking dishes, but apparently there is more to learn that that.

2. France in World War II (Coffin): I have two female professors out of the total five, and they both teach classes regarding France; however, Professor Coffin is much different that Professor DeBacker. Coffin is all business. She certainly knows her French history and her material is very interesting. I have a slight advantage over the rest of the class because last semester I took a “Western Civilizations” class that was just a French history class in disguise. Accordingly, most of what she says conjures up a dull echo in my mind, and I have been able to impress her mildly (very mildly [radically mildly?]) with my knowledge.

So far, this is my least favorite class, simply because it’s the least interesting. Make sense? This class is brilliant, it just has stiff competition. I am interested in learning about the Vichy government though, and so I think I will begin to like this class more as we progress further into the girth of French history.

3. Germany, Hitler, and Nazism in World War II (Crew): This class is my first taught by a male professor, a man named Professor Crew who radiates erudition, but not pretentiously so. Germany is probably the most dynamic piece in the diplomatic dance that led to both World Wars, and so this class has been more interesting than I thought. It’s important to mention that we’ve started with World War I in all of my classes, because the professors insist that we understand the foundation on which World War II began.

I am ecstatic to begin learning about the Nazi regime and life under Hitler, because I’ve always found that area of history intriguing. There is so much to learn about Nazism and the crazy things that happened to Germany in a period of seven or so year, and there’s even more to learn about Hitler himself. Make no mistake, I do not idolize or adore Hitler in any way, but studying Nazism is fascinating to me for the same reasons that Greek mythology is interesting to me. Did people really believe this stuff? If you think you know a lot about Hitler and Nazism, you probably have just spied the tip of the iceswell, and there’s much more  mind-blowing information to be found.

4. America in World War II (Stoff): I had the pleasure of being a student in Professor Stoff’s U.S. History class last Fall, and that experience was one thing that prompted me to apply for the Normandy Program. He is, unequivocally, the best lecturer I have ever heard. He teaches history like it’s all one big bed-time story that he’s just letting us in on. In addition, U.S. history holds an important position in our minds because our engagement in WWII has affected contemporary war policy and culture.

Speaking of culture, I also am writing a twenty-page paper on butter. I wanted to focus on war-time rationing during WWII in America, but Professor Stoff recommended I focus on one commodity. Hopefully there will be enough information on butter to write the necessary length; regardless, I’m looking foward to the task.

5. The Soviet Union in World War II (Wynn): My favorite class so far for various reasons. First, Professor Wynn explained to us that Russia’s role in the war has been deliberately downplayed in Western education as an attempt to deligitimize what was once the West’s most potent rival for power. Because the U.S.S.R. was Communist, our education regarding the Soviet’s role in the war is purposefully shirked, to the point where I am surprised everyday in that class.

Also, the reading in that class has been fascinating and vivid. Long have I heard about Stalin, Lenin, and Trotsky, but I had never been given the opportunity to learn so much about them. Finally, all these dark gaps in my brain are being filled.

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Normandy Scholar Classes

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