When do pop culture, gender, and racial identity intersect? Here at Middlebury, J-term (January semester) injects life into the campus as students return refreshed from December break. J-term allows students to deviate from traditional academic courses and explore sections of academia outside of their comfort zone. This semester I took Performing Power as my final J-term class of senior year. In this course we explored the myriad dynamics of power as related to class, race, gender, etc. Following such, classes ranged from examining the power dynamics between female wrestlers to analyzing the role of performing masculinity in professional football. While the class was non-traditional, it still represented Middlebury as an institution that embraces all forms of academia whether in a laboratory or theater. Similarly, the class was composed of students from all four grades, three different countries, and several cities across the US. Each class was started by students performing a creative work that showed performing power in modern pop culture. As a neuroscience major this class was without a doubt outside of my comfort zone. And yet that was the very reason each day was a refreshing and challenging endeavor to explore my creative side. In essence the class represents the very reason that J-term exists—to allow students to not just leave their comfort zones, but instead go flying out of it. Ending my final J-term with a class that was unlike my previous experiences has allowed me to come full circle in terms of my academic experiences at Middlebury.
As J-term comes to an end one can sense the changes in the student body. Dining halls slowly empty, tearful goodbyes are said to graduating Febs, and professors begin to prepare their Spring lesson plans. It is certainly a period of change—change that resonates through the whole school.