I’m living amongst English majors, and I love it.
My Singaporean friend Angela is an English major concentrating in Linguistics major, and when I found that out yesterday, we had a little rant about the under appreciation of good grammar. Then, our conversation progressed to writing styles, good writing, “good” reading, guilty pleasure reading, and, finally, to the books we had read growing up. I have never met anyone else who admits to having read and enjoyed the Sweet Valley Twins series, much less any of the other books I devoured in my youth: Nancy Drew, R.L. Stein, Christopher Pike. I just rattled off the authors, and she had read and loved their books, too! Moreover, neither of us ever liked the Babysitters’ Club, and today, neither of us are pursuing English Literature degrees, despite our love of literature, because of the seemingly useless regimes of ISMS imposed upon reading interpretation: structuralism, colonialism, post colonialism, modernism, postmodernism, existentialism, transcendentalism—and the list goes on. I probably don’t even have those in the right chronological order, but that is because I never properly learned about them. If I never do, I will only feel at a loss when discussing literature with other English majors; Carl and Jamir, for instance. They just sound so much more educated than me when we talk about what we’ve read. Then again, I took a class that studied Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood, while they were learning about the theory of sexual inversion (which, as I learned from Carl, is what people in the romantic period believed was the reason men were homosexual: they were really women trapped inside men’s bodies) and goodness knows what else. But except for the occasional “What? You don’t know that?” look and a bit of ridicule here and there (quote: “God, what do you learn at your school?”), I don’t mind not knowing the nitty gritty academic theory behind everything I read. As Angela put it, “Don’t tell me how to read my book.”