Before becoming an English major, I had in my head the stories I had heard about what English majors and faculty were like. The impression given to me by my freshman-level peers about their Composition instructors—combined with someone I dated who was an English major (if someone tells you their favorite author is Franz Kafka, run for the hills!)—left a taste in my mouth so bad that I thought I might never get over it. At that time, my only impression had been that to be an English major, I had to participate in what Alvy Singer in Annie Hall derisively calls “mental masturbation.” Thankfully, as one of my favorite non-Canonical authors, Lemony Snicket, once said, “I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed this, but first impressions are often entirely wrong.”
A perfect segue into the teachable moment before us: you shouldn’t necessarily listen to young college students full of angst and resistance to authority, and avoiding pretentious boyfriends quoting Nietzsche are the foundations of a for a happier life. Basically, be open-minded enough to listen and experience things before making final judgements. It’s equally true about English and boyfriends. In my case, I chose to be an English major and quit the boyfriend.
The English department, as I know it, is an overwhelmingly warm and welcoming place where the classes feed your soul, and the faculty literally feeds you (Dr. Joseph Jordan has been known to bring donuts to class on more than one occasion). And even I was resistant to poetry. When I think back to the times when I first started English and said “Poetry is so stupid, why don’t they just say what they mean?” much cringing ensues. Thankfully not many people still know me from those days, but that’s been ameliorated by going out of my way to make self-deprecating comments which identify me as a former poetry hater.
I know my time writing for Connections and having opportunities to interact with more students, alumni, and faculty will deepen my connection with the English major and department, and maybe what I write can help someone else create a connection and see the personal value of an English degree.