Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a junior in CAS, majoring in English and minoring in Animal Studies. I grew up in a small town in England, and since I was little I’ve always loved books and cared about animals. Being at NYU has given me a chance to bring these two passions together and to bring them into conversation with each other in ways I never would have imagined.
What initially attracted you to NYU’s Environmental Studies/Animal Studies program? Why did you decide to pursue this degree?
I fell into Animal Studies almost by chance. In my sophomore year I took a J-Term class called “Literature and the Environment”—partly out of curiosity, mainly to satisfy a requirement; I knew nothing about the field—and found myself absolutely enchanted by what we were studying. I had never considered the ways that natural and nonhuman forces shape literature: by the end of the class, I’d discovered an entirely new way to read, think, and exist in the world. From then on, I was obsessed: anytime I see a class that brings together literature and the environment, I take it—I’ve written papers about tortoises in Herman Melville’s short stories, horses in Jane Austen’s novels, birds in works of contemporary Japanese literature, and so much more. Learning to look for other forces and beings in the books I read—the way nature is alive and agentic; the animals and other beings that often go unnoticed—has made me, I think, a more sensitive and attentive reader.
What do you love most about being in the minor?
I love the people I’ve met in the Animal Studies minor. I’ve found that Animal Studies minors tend to be thoughtful, curious, and passionate, which makes for a wonderful atmosphere in class and provokes fascinating discussion. I think we’re all interested in looking beyond ourselves and challenging our assumptions, so the conversations I’ve had with others in the minor—both inside and outside of the classroom—are always eye-opening and massively rewarding.
What is your most memorable moment while in the program and why?
One of my favorite memories in the minor has to be when each person in one of my Animal Studies classes had to present their final paper ideas to each other: hearing the ways that my classmates were bringing animals into conversation with their other passions—from music to activism to sci-fi—really inspired me to dig deeper into my own ideas and made me realize how expansive and malleable the Animal Studies minor can be.
What was your favorite class?
I’ve loved all the classes I’ve taken in the minor, but my favorite is probably a graduate seminar I took last Fall called “Human and Animal Others: Race, Animals, and Nature” taught by Professor Nandini Thiyagarajan. The class really opened my eyes to the many complex connections between race, species, and the environment in ways that expanded and challenged my understanding of all three. I was a little intimidated by taking a graduate-level class, but it was so rewarding: I learned so much not just from the professor but also from the many insights of my classmates.
What do you hope to accomplish with your minor?
I want to continue making connections between Animal Studies and English—I’m fascinated by the Environmental Humanities and hope to pursue further study in this area. It’s such an exciting and up-and-coming field and I think it’s especially urgent that we bring considerations of nature and nonhumans into the humanities if we want to find ways to read, think, and live in the Anthropocene.
How do you hope to combine your majors/or major and minor?
I’ve spent the past year and a half combining my interests in English and Animal Studies, putting animals in conversation with literature and puzzling through what these two fields of study can do for and gain from each other. My English Honors thesis, which I’ll be writing in my senior year, is very much a combination of the two.
What is next for you? What do you plan to do after graduation?
After I graduate, I’m looking to pursue a masters (or possibly a PhD) in either English or Comparative Literature. Wherever I go, I hope to use and build on the practices I've learned in the Animal Studies minor; for this reason, I’m particularly interested in programs that emphasize interdisciplinarity.
What advice do you have for prospective students?
Take classes outside of your comfort zone! The classes that have shaped me the most are the ones where I knew almost nothing about the subject coming into it.