“I’ve Been in a Different English Class”

As the year has gone on, I’ve watched our class’s blog grow into a home for interdisciplinarity, for musings on our texts and for thoughts on the experiences of an English major. I’ve watched people argue with themselves and grapple with their own opinions on English as a major and the opinions of those around them. I’ve watched conversations take place between family members, suitemates, patrons of Geneseo regarding the discipline of English. I’ve watched ideas take form, as well as arguments. I’ve watched revelations in motion.

And I have not participated.

I’ve discussed the English major. I’ve certainly grown and my perceptions of my major have grown. But I haven’t discussed my own personal trials and tribulations, like most everyone else. My posts have been of a different timbre. My struggles with the major have been purely academic and analytical, and not at all personal. I’m realizing only now, at the end of the semester, that I’ve been in a different English class from many of the other students in Reader and Text.

I lead a double life. I arrived at Geneseo with a double major in English and Economics already declared. This semester I took two classes for my English major (ENGL 201 and ENGL 203) and two for my Economics major (ECON 110 and MATH 221). I chose to study English (like the general consensus has been) because I always loved to read and write, and I decided if I was going to get a piece of paper that said something about me I wanted it to say that.

But I also chose to study Economics.

Many blog posts that I’ve read have centered around an antagonistic character who asserts that English is a major that won’t do anything to get a job. That it’s a waste of tuition. My parents were two of those people. My father was pushing for me to go into a hard science until I won the Humanities Student of the Year Award at my high school in the eleventh grade. My mother also wanted to make sure that I wasn’t going to waste my time at college and have to move back in with her like she’d heard about so often on television and the radio. They agreed to let me major in English (Creative Writing, more specifically), but only as long as I neutralized the acidity of a wasted degree with the bitter base that was Economics. And I’m glad they did. Because I realized recently that I’m at college to, at one point in my life, make as much money as I can. We all are, to some extent. It certainly has to be a factor when one goes about accruing tens of thousands of dollars in debt. I like English, but if I didn’t have to worry about making as much money as possible I’d be somewhere far away, probably doing something equal parts stupid and fulfilling. Which I fully intend on doing anyway in the future. But this is, in my opinion, the best time in my life to go to college. So here I am. English is just the spoonful of sugar.

I love social sciences. I love working through people and how they think. I love categorizing the world until it’s all color coded and annotated up to the tops of my eyeballs. Recently I’ve started to think that this might be unhealthy. But so is smoking. I’ve loved social science for a decade now and I haven’t gotten lung cancer yet.

Economics always felt like a fringe social science. I liked aspects of it but I wasn’t engrossed in it the same way that I was in political science or history. I think it served as a shield, though. A shield from all of the hate for English that a lot of you all have been feeling from people you know. When I told everyone I was studying English and Economics, I imagine that second major protected me from similar sentiments.

I know for a fact that I’m not the only double major in our class. I wonder if other people who are studying other subjects have had similar experiences. I’ve often (ironically) felt in class like both an insider and an outsider, as an English major and as more. And I wonder why it is that I had a different experience. I wonder why it is that I didn’t have such a personal bonding with the major. I can guess, obviously, but that’s a whole different blog post.

I think that a lot of things that were posted on here were a bit counterproductive. This was originally introduced to us as a space to bounce ideas regarding interdisciplinarity off of. It expanded on that, and I’m fine with the change since I like having a broader range to work in, but that was clearly supposed to be a large portion of the dialogue that we maintained over the course of the year. And I think that quite a few of the posts about English majors being antagonized have actually ended up antagonizing interdisciplinarity itself. They establish a binary of those who are English majors and those who are non-English majors, and while I realize that Joe Moran discusses this and how the categorization of education has created these binaries, he also devotes a chapter in Interdisciplinarity to how English can transcend these categories and intermingle with the disciplines. When I read a post that tells me “English majors do something that others cannot” (which is from an actual post that I won’t cite for anonymity’s sake) and other musings on academic isolationsim, I can’t help but think that this is not what Moran had in mind for discussions that his book would spark. And this is coming at the very end of the year when the blog posts are starting to sputter out, so I don’t expect to change the content. For anyone who’s actually bothered reading this far, it’s just something to think about going forward as an English major.

And for Dr. McCoy (if even you’ve made it this far), I hope you liked what I wrote because you’ll be seeing it all again in my final self-reflective paper.

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