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Catherine and I in class!

One of the best things about a liberal arts program is the ability to take classes outside of your major. Each term, I look forward to "trying out" a new subject area and learning about something I wouldn't necessarily study through my religion major. This term, I decided to take a class called "Cultural Analytics." This class is listed as English 64.05 and is taught by Professor James Dobson. I've taken two classes with Prof. Dobson before ("Game of Thrones" and "Dartmouth Fictions") and I loved them both. When I saw he was teaching this class for the first time and offering it this term, I had to jump at the opportunity. 

On the first day of class, I was greeted with a lovely surprise: fellow blogger, Catherine, is also in this class! As the class got started, I was again surprised. Prof. Dobson explained that we would be coding. As a religion major, I was scared about this because I don't have very much coding experience. However, this class was designed for students with minimal to no coding experience and Prof. Dobson told me not to worry.

We're about to start week 7 of the term and I can honestly say this has been one of the most interesting classes I've taken to date. We spend our time analyzing and dissecting texts with the goal of learning more about their themes and the author's intent. For our mid-term project, we were told to recreate one of the academic studies we had learned about thus far. I decided to attempt to re-create a study called "Vocabulary Decay in Category Romance." In this study, the author worked to see if the use of vocabulary regressed over the course of romance novels. With the coding skills that I had learned in class and a new selection of romance novels, I worked to recreate the study using slightly different methods. While my coding methods were much less sophisticated than that of the original study, I was pleased to discover some very interesting results. 

Overall, I'm proud of myself for trying something that is out of my comfort zone. I am continuously thankful that our liberal arts program fosters, and encourages, academic exploration. I appreciate that I can take a class that blends reading and coding, something I love and something that I would love to learn more about! If you want to learn more about "Cultural Analytics", visit this webpage!

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