Tuesday, May 10

I'm now an ex-English Major

Today I took my last exams (The feminist structure vs. the patriarchal structure in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice and London as a "nightmare world" in Sam Selvon's The Lonely Londoners) and last Thursday I wrote my very last sources cited page and this morning I noticed how second nature quoting sources in papers has become and as of right this very minute I am no longer an English literature major because I finally have a degree in English literature.
I was so excited up until this point and suddenly I have no idea what I'm going to be doing for the rest of my life, and that sucks because the only thing I want to do is what I've been doing for the last five years: reading, writing, and talking about reading and writing.
When I was 18 I decided to be an English major because it was the only thing I was good at, but in my sophomore year I took an intro to poetry class and Sonnet 116 pretty much put the last nail in my coffin. I remember my professor going through the symbols and meter in the poem and I raised my hand and asked, I'm not even kidding, "Did he do that on purpose?" I was amazed.
That sonnet was it for me. I was suddenly passionate about something. I wanted to read everything and know all the stories and writers and to talk to everyone about everything that exists in books. And I still do, and that's what makes graduating so heartbreaking. How am I going to be happy without screaming matches over meaning and revelations about Shakespeare and every six months a big, fresh stack of assigned reading (things I would never pick up on my own) and a group of people with different brains and different opinions and different intellects who are essentially being forced to talk to me about something we've read together?
Literature has been my greatest love and graduating feels like we're breaking up. I wish I could start at the beginning again. I liked college and I loved my field, my professors, my peers, my textbooks, my assignments, and now, no more essays, no more MLA format, no more analyzing, no more theory, no more conversation. Just books for pleasure for the rest of my life, and where's the fun in that?


Jason said...

Duh, Ph.D.

But to be perfectly honest, you just summed up with it's going to be like until you start that Ph.D program. People are dull, ideas are small, culture is cheap (not the good kind of cheap), and reading is lonely. If anyone ever tells you otherwise, they're lying or they're more privileged than you are or they live someplace like Cambridge or Berkeley.

Jason said...

You know what? Screw what I just said. First of all, congratulations. (Rude much?) Second of all: you have other things to do now. Building a family, a new home, worklife, new hobbies, new friendships. For the record, I am way happier now than I was when I was in school, but it took a little to cope with the change. If literature is an important part of your life, then you have to pursue it, but obviously it isn't the only important thing in your life. And it isn't the most important thing. It's yours now to enjoy, to have as a way of seeing and of being in the world. It won't be the same outside of school. The rest of life does not accommodate itself to the totally impractical devotion to literature, but really the only way of *honestly* being a person of letters is to find the harmony between the rest of your life and this.

Rhiannon Admidas said...

I like both of the things you've said here because they sum up exactly how I feel. It's sad and I feel useless, but at the same time I'm happy and my life is just different. It's just going to take some adjusting, and maybe a little grad school, too.