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Oh, the Humanities! A Reading List Pertaining to the English Major

Emily Perper | Longreads | July 20, 2014 | words

“Majoring in English was both the joy and bane of my life. I struggled in the face of a Faulkner-heavy Southern Lit course, even though Faulkner remains beloved. I groused through Shakespeare. But I wrote my senior thesis on Michael Chabon. And I transformed my love for editing into a prestigious position on the college newspaper. My Lit Crit class—a notorious gauntlet at my college—introduced me to Derrida’s jeu and the revelation of feminist theory.”

Posted inReading List

Oh, the Humanities! A Reading List Pertaining to the English Major

In college, I rearranged my majors and minors, all in the humanities, for years. I loved everything. Finally, I majored in English. It was fate—second-grade me was constantly in trouble for sneaking books under her desk. Majoring in English was both the joy and bane of my life. I struggled with a Faulkner-heavy Southern Lit course, even though Faulkner remains beloved. I groused about Shakespeare. I wrote my senior thesis on Michael Chabon. And I transformed my love for editing into a prestigious position on the college newspaper. My Lit Crit class—a notorious gauntlet at my college—introduced me to Derrida’s jeu and the revelation of feminist theory. I spent my time studying and socializing in the English department suite. I TA’d for the head of the department. When I am nostalgic for college, I am nostalgic for the English suite—for the camaraderie among my fellow students and best friends, my professors and mentors, and the dusty books and teacups and flyers.

A confession: today, I whined to my boyfriend about the great gigs my journalist friends have procured. Daily papers! Grad school! Photography internships! New York City! On my worst days, I feel envy and inferiority. On my best days, I go to the library and check on a huge stack of books, remind myself to be grateful for my temp job and come home to write for Longreads. I remember that I did something right. If I remember that, I will continue to do something right, to do something, write.

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