By all accounts, I am a busy person, overscheduled and overcommitted—pretty typical for a Barnard alumna. So I cannot fully explain why I registered this fall for Short Stops: Exploring Long Stories, Short Novels, and Novellas, the online course taught by Professor Mary Gordon ’71 and sponsored by Alumnae Affairs. I was curious about how these courses work, even though participating meant reading Joyce, Flaubert, Porter, Cather, Tolstoy, and Nabokov to name a few; watching two online lectures a month; submitting essays in response to Professor Gordon’s questions; and participating in a monthly webinar with classmates. I was back in the classroom at Barnard.
Perhaps that is the answer right there. As I watched the lecture with Professor Gordon, standing in front of a green blackboard writing a line for emphasis, I was transferred to an intellectual place I had (almost) forgotten. I needed to focus and pay attention, which meant turning off phone, e-mail, and other Internet distractions. When it was time to write my first essay, I found myself staring anxiously at a blank page, afraid to commit my thoughts to “paper” for critique.
With each month, it gets easier; I am truly enjoying the experience without worrying about achieving a certain grade. The only difficulty is not being in the same room with all the alumnae from classes that span 1949 to 2012. Everyone brings her own points of view and life experiences to the discussion. I only wish we could hang out and have coffee after class.
This is what Barnard always was, and still is: a place of intellect and of scholarship, a gathering place for intelligent women. How I envy today’s students. I don’t think I fully appreciated all that Barnard had to offer back in the ’70s when I was a pre-med psychology major. I wish I had taken more literature, art, music, and philosophy classes. When else can you stretch your mind with brilliant professors who really make you think?
This is my last year as president of the AABC, but not my last year with Barnard. I am looking forward to the classes I can audit, the museums I can visit, the panel discussions I can listen to, and the theatre performances I can attend through Barnard. I can do it regionally, virtually, and in New York City. Barnard is yesterday, today, and tomorrow for alumnae who can choose to connect in any way they want.
All my best wishes,
Mary Ann LoFrumento ’77