Junior | Brooklyn, NY
Why did you decide to become an English major?
If, as I believe, we are all of us by nature predisposed to make meaning out of series of events less disparate and indecipherable than we might at outset suspect, then nowhere is more sense made of our world than in literature. The writing of literature is always an epistemological undertaking; so is its reading. Because: A writer writes for the same reason that a reader reads—to know more about the invisible machinery of her day. It is in the writing and the reading, then—the “close” reading, a practice familiar to any English major—that a hypothesis or philosophy of life emerges. A repertoire of philosophies is a good thing to have.
What is your favorite class taken in the department thus far and why?
To start, there’s the first course I took as a declared English major, Literary Interpretation, taught by Professor Pacharee Sudhinaraset. A sometimes rigorous inauguration to modes of thought and practice popular in the academic setting, Professor Sudhinaraset’s class left me with the language and the desire to read with an eye towards post-colonialism and intersectionality. American Literature taught me methods of intellectual and textual engagement that I lacked before and cherish now—and it’s no coincidence that class had Professor Phillip Harper for its instructor.
If you could create a class in the department, what would it be?
Though it originally had not, the Harlem Renaissance has of late taken on a spatiotemporal limitation. We think only of the Harlem of the 1920s when we hear the phrase. In fact, the Harlem Renaissance is a nickname-turned-misnomer: initially, talk of the Negro Renaissance (as it was called) encompassed art beyond and besides those of that instant in space-time. So: I would devote my course to challenging the notion of an ended renaissance for Black artists, by means of examining Black literatures of the twentieth century.
What are you reading right now?
I’m reading things written amid sorry political realities once thought one-offs but now proven resurgent: Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man; Toni Morrison’s Sula; Baldwin at random.
In what way do you think English majors contribute to society, the world, etc.?
What a literature major has to offer her society is the same anyone else has: the employment of her energies and faculties to the pursuit of a social equality. The only difference is that the study of literature makes of her a more prepared participant—a more informed activist—in wider, public efforts.
What's been your favorite part of being an English major so far?
The major has introduced me to books, concepts, people—things I hold dear and would never have come across on my own or elsewhere
What advice would you give to students considering majoring in English at NYU?
I’d advise interested students to take a smaller class offered in the department before they decide whether or not to declare. It’s in these classes that the major shows what it can offer: a focused setting in which to broach difficult topics with a dedicated group.