Junior | Bethlehem, PA
Why did you decide to become an English major?
As a child, I desperately wanted to be an artist, and studying English allows me to keep that dream alive. I’m an avid writer and of the belief that the practice of observation and orienting myself within a variety of texts will ultimately serve me in shaping the worlds of my own stories and plays. I figured English would widen my breadth of knowledge overall and add new dimension to subjects I was already well acquainted with. My hope was that in consuming as much literature as possible, I’d gain a command of language and rhetorical strategy that would help me amplify the voices of the disenfranchised as opposed to the boisterous and privileged few among them.
What did you love to read when you were growing up?
As a little girl, I was addicted to the Magic Treehouse series as well as the huge collection of Nancy Drew books my mother gifted me with. I also loved the Goosebumps series, specifically the choose-your-own-adventure subset. That fervor soon turned into a love for Harry Potter; however it was short lived as I went straight from the Chamber of Secrets to the Half Blood Prince. In the teen years, I’m embarrassed to say that I consumed an overwhelming amount of fanfiction (Walking Dead and SHINee), which actually encouraged me to start crafting my own narratives. I also binged on James Patterson’s fast paced murder mysteries to pass my summers. My late teens were characterized by any play that crossed my path and a sudden obsession with romantic works, namely Frankenstein and John Keats' poetry. I was particularly fond of Ibsen’s plays, because they always made me laugh. During the summer before coming to NYU, I bought several volumes of philosophy from my local library and prepared for the next chapter of my life by reading about metaphysics.
What are you reading right now?
Utopia by Thomas More. It’s problematic, but I see what he was going for.
You have a double major in Politics—does your English major ever help you with your Politics classes, or vice versa?
Literary works are contextualized by the political climate that underscored their inception, so the two are intimately linked. I was just talking to my aunt about how my interest in political theory has influenced my development as a writer. I often find myself speaking in the language of “ought” when a work invokes imagery of Rousseau or Hobbes. The Politics department is very empirical, so I’m trained to dissect everything formulaically. This approach is incredibly helpful in distinguishing the formal structures of a text. The study of political actors and the principles of game theory are governed by assumptions about human nature -- all of which are articulated through literary texts and movements.
What do you consider the most rewarding part of being an English major?
I’ve found that English provides the most holistic study of any abstract. One of my professors recently mentioned that a neoliberal education is akin to a fractured study of capitalism. This framework contends that no abstract can ever be realized in its entirety in the same way one’s conception of self is incomplete, because its summation is only realized through the perspectives of others. With literature, you can tie together any narrative with vignettes from infinite angles, allowing a kind of objective truth to emerge, ironically out of an ostensibly subjective genre. The most rewarding part of being an English major is finding the language to accurately articulate these truths and my own revelations about the human condition.
What are some of your dreams, hopes, and aspirations for yourself after you graduate?
I’d really like to pursue a degree in law; however my utmost priority lies in framing a society around maximizing human potential. With that in mind, I’d ultimately like to pursue a career as a politician. Legislation largely determines our quality of life, and there is much to be desired from the status quo in promoting peace and preserving human dignity.
What advice would you give to students considering majoring in English at NYU?
Majoring in English is the single best decision I think I’ve made since I came to NYU. The material is engaging, the professors are masters in their craft, and the curriculum endlessly provokes new connections. I’ve observed that there is truly a place for any academic inquiry within this department. Often I’ve found myself grasping at straws in attempting to analyze a work, and suddenly I’ve arrived at a profound thesis (and perhaps another existential crisis). The English program at NYU harkens to an ideal of what education should be rather than just another vehicle to a degree. My classes have inspired some really meaningful contemplation and personal growth. Just know that if you go the English route, you won’t regret it.