This year in Mr. Ryan Gallagher’s senior honors class I was introduced to a new way of looking at English. In that little crowded room in the third floor of C-house art and literature was introduced and studied in a way that I was truly unfamiliar with. On the first day when I looked around at my classmates, I knew we were in for a real productive year. Full of opinionated, young and intelligent young people, room C337 was all about business. I remember walking into that classroom and seeing all these images on the walls from collages to portraits to things that I could spend 1,000 words writing about. I was truly overwhelmed with how out of place I felt, I didn’t know anything about art or how to write about it and it took nearly 4 months for me to learn how to explicate a passage properly, and I still have not mastered it.
The characters in the books we read were real to me. My reactions to the books were real as though I knew Hamlet like he was my boy and I really felt bad for him. When we would come in and Mr. G would just talk about agenda and leave the discussion up to us, my class nailed the important subjects. The only time G-man would butt in was if we were beating a subject to death or to refresh our memories about why things happened the way they did and what we thought. Hamlet was the best part of the year for me. Every class was so much fun and I am the last person on the face of the earth to ever say anything remotely even close to that. Reading in class and going back and actually learning how funny puns are and who was trying to fool who was a blast. When I was first introduced to Shakespearean writing in tenth grade, I thought to myself wow if only the test were tomorrow so I could just fail and get it out of the way. Not this year, not period 5, we had fun. When Hamlet was acted out by Mr. G when he had his pants all over the place and his shirt all messed up (not by Mr. G in class but Hamlet) was absolutely hilarious because we kept going back after Ophelia would say something else about Hamlet’s appearance and G would go down the list of ridiculous things, that class was fun.
Having someone introduce James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man that actually knew everything instead of figuring it out as he taught was a blessing. It was like having a patient geometry teacher after trying to learn equations of a line for the previous 3 years. When I read the first page of Portrait, I thought I was doomed, I figured this was going to be no fun and I am going to do horrid on the test, but my class helped a lot. Not everyone would contribute everyday to our discussion but when we hit on a good couple of pages, my notebook filled up with notes pretty quickly. Everything that was said just made so much sense after someone would talk about it. Then Mr. G put the nail in the coffin with all his knowledge of religion, Greek mythology, and literature in general. I learned the importance of context and how to use it in my papers and how to understand that we cannot just derive ridiculous statements from our own head because that’s what we just think, I learned to interpret what Mr. Joyce meant, rather that Mr. DiNisco.
I knew Mr. G cared about us when he said if it were up to him, we wouldn’t be graded. I felt respected. I don’t know if it had that impact on anyone else in the room but for that six and a half seconds it took for G-man to say that, everything I was about to be hit with in that year, I felt ready for. Everyday I felt laid back, if I read the night before or had been working on a paper I could be proud of, the next day I looked forward to period 5. Academically, English means more to me than just books. It incorporates videos, images, and poems, books, etc. Context is important, what the author is trying to say about a subject is like the holy trinity, one of the most important things, and one of the hardest things to understand. Explications and how to cite sources in a research paper are all stuck in my head, thank goodness.