After three years out of high school, my brain is finally able to entertain concepts like graded essays, lectures, and literary analysis without melting in the heat of conformist academia. At the behest of a friend, I have signed up for a free online course through a lovely company called Coursera.
Of course, it helps that the syllabus this particular course involves reading some of the best and most influential science fiction and fantasy novels of the last hundred and fifty years or so. For the next 11 weeks, it's all about "Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World".
I swear it's not as fluffy as it sounds. When it comes to reading for pleasure, I average about 2 books a month, and this course requires either a novel or collection of short stories a week. I'll have to write an essay of about 300 words on each unit. A book report alone isn't enough, I also have to make a unique and brilliant observation about some aspect of the text. I'm slightly nervous about this. After all, what is the worth of a speculative fiction writer without an interesting perspective?
Although I won't get college credits for this, I will get a signed certificate by an actual respected professor at an actual reputable university if I perform well enough. I don't imagine I'll acknowledge it in future author bios, but the accomplishment should be at least as satisfying as winning NaNoWriMo.
I do have some reservations. My English major aunt says nothing ruins a good book like literary analysis, and I've personally experienced people seeing things in my writing that I simply did not put there (intentionally). I was lucky, in that their interpretation made me seem a lot more insightful than I was; however, anyone who's listened to someone with too much time and too many degrees discuss the political landscape of Middle Earth knows that some theories can become offensively far-fetched. Just once, I want to see an Important Author of the 20th Century raise their hand during a three-hour lecture on their work and say, "I'm sorry, what?"
But I am a good student, and I'm here to learn with an open mind. I'll try my best to behave.