Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical (hermionesviolin) wrote,
Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical
hermionesviolin

Why am i an English major?

In his most recent letter, my friend Kevin wrote
I was a bit surprised to hear that you were not too "blown away" by most of them [my classes] since you've always seemed like the type of person who's more concerned with grades and academic learning than anything else, and much more comfortable in classrooms and academic settings than anywhere else.
This is my response:
Hmm. I'm not entirely sure how to respond to that. College, for me, is an incredible learning experience. Academics, social interaction, work experience, personal growth, etc. And in the classroom i'm more interested in learning stuff i care about than about getting a good grade. In high school it was all about getting into college, though i made it a point to actually care about my activities and classes. Now that i'm in college, though, it's (for me) about being in college. I want to maintain a 3.0 or better GPA, but friends in need take precedence over schoolwork, i can only skimp on sleep so much, i insist on a balance between academic work + a social life + volunteer activities + personal time. I am also learning that it is incredibly difficult for me to do schoolwork if i don't care about the subject (e.g writing a paper analyzing a book i couldn't care less about).

Education and knowledge are crucially important to me. I read loads of nonfiction and write essays synthesizing what i've learned. I always insist that issues are more complicated than they seem and seek out other points of view, other arguments, other information. I spend a lot of my time online debating with people. The debate and study of information and opinions is one of the places i feel most in my element. In many literature classes i feel like people are reading way too deeply into texts, that if you try hard enough you can make a text mean anything. I also often find it uninteresting and useless to analyze literature. Sometimes i find it interesting, but often i don't like the characters, don't like the historical period, and would much rather be debating an issue of current social importance. I'm often tempted to become a high school English teacher, but i would need a good answer to the question of why we study literature, especially at the high school level, and i don't have a good answer yet. I'm still an English major (partly because a major like Public Policy would depress me and i need to be able to take a break from the news for my own sanity whenever i need it, and that doesn't go well with a major in news) because that is still what i most like to do. I'm interested in people, in stories about people. I keep finding pieces of my life reflected in the writings of people very different from myself. I believe in the power of words to change the world. I want to spend my life surrounded by words and ideas and people. I want to know what makes stories eternal, why we still read novels from hundreds of years ago. I want to learn about people through their stories, even when they're not explicitly writing about themselves. I want to know the allusions people make, the stories they are playing with. Words and stories are life and i want to understand them (and also, by understand, learn how to make them myself.)


[And because i realized what icon i'm using, i add the following.]

i fight fire with words
words are hotter than flames
words are wetter than water
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