It was in class, while going back through the definition of the term “romanticism” in the Bedford, when I stumbled across the term that announced itself, in my mind, as the characterization of Zulus: primitivism. This doctrine illuminates itself in Everett’s piece as the reader realizes the doomed fate of humanity, which is a direct result of nuclear wars. These wars can only be had between advanced civilizations; between societies that have advanced knowledge and the power to execute that knowledge to the peak of its destructive force. Continue reading “Primitivism”

Identifying with Historicism

It was mentioned by Dr. Beth in class, weeks ago, that forms of literary analysis and criticism have flexibility; a person may be able to utilize many criticisms in her attempt to analyze and interpret a literary work. Some texts may be better interpreted through the lens of one critical perspective as opposed to another, and close-readers have the opportunity to pick and choose aspects of each form of criticism to suit their own perspectives. However, Dr. Beth also mentioned that there may be some perspectives in which a reader can find herself especially invested, of which she can, for the most part, identify with. Dr. Beth described this as a type of “Aha!” moment, when the critical thinker feels as if she can cry out, “Where have you been all my life?” The approach of historicism produced, for me, this moment. Continue reading “Identifying with Historicism”

Demanding Zulus

Percival Everett’s Zulus is an unavoidably thought-provoking piece that has the tendency to trip and mystify the reader as pages turn. As we’ve been trekking forth on our journey in this book, I’ve found myself really enjoying it. There’s something about dystopian literature that, more often than not, appeals to me. My own thoughts as to why this happens with me would be that it has to do with the mystery; those deep, black caverns spanning that – often vaguely explained – void between what we experience in real time today and what whichever book claims our future to be. In the dystopian literature I’ve been exposed to, that question is a constant cloud over most of the story. I could include Zulus in this category. Although the bulk of the mystery has been implied to, this air of secrecy and puzzlement is heavier in this than in most other books I’ve encountered. When trying to understand and analyze Everett’s piece, I find I can only laugh in my bemusement. Continue reading “Demanding Zulus”

Marxism in Literature

The novel at the center of our latest class discussion by Alice Walker, Meridian, is a gem of a book that I have found deeply thought-provoking as well as an overall invigorating read. The protagonist, Meridian, has been a mystery that is gradually unfolding as I reach the end. Her values and morals as a Civil Rights Worker in the southern region of the USA fit smoothly into her station, and they are relatively clear to the reader, as Meridian is an astounding thinker. It is when she has a fleeting conversation with her close college friend, Anne-Marion, that we are introduced to Meridian’s perspective on Socialist and Communist theories, which have been significantly contributed to by the ideas of Karl Marx. Continue reading “Marxism in Literature”

The Wholeness in Arts and Literature

The discussion in today’s class led primarily by the work of Alice Walker left an impression on me that I have carried all day. Reading her essay, “In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens” on my own before class stirred profound emotion, and I immediately felt a connection with the text. However, it was only during class, when the text was read aloud by fellow students as well as Dr. McCoy, that I felt truly enraptured by Walker’s message. My eyes could not be separated from the text, and I wanted to cry out for the women Walker spoke for. When it was mentioned by Dr. McCoy that it is thanks to writers such as Alice Walker that we, as English undergraduates, enjoy the freedom of expressing our interpretations of literature and feel that there is value in them, I was reminded of my admiration for literary study. Continue reading “The Wholeness in Arts and Literature”

Environmentally Interdisciplinary

Yesterday was the fateful day on which I received my first – and so far only – exam grade of the semester. It was naturally nerve-wrecking to me, as it was for my environmental science class. Science has always been a subject that I have struggled in, although I have a surprising amount of interest in many of its concepts, especially when it comes to sustainability and conservation. While I was satisfied with my grade, it reminded me of the countless hours I had spent preparing myself for that exam and I can remember, amidst the haze of caffeine-defiant exhaustion, one particular reading. Continue reading “Environmentally Interdisciplinary”

A Thought on Value

I’m beginning to recognize a recurring pattern as I dive into the abstract, at times even murky, English major waters. All around me I hear the unspoken conversations between most students, educators, and all those in between, regarding a major’s value.

“So you’re an English major…” is what most people coolly reply to my admissions. Each time this occurs, I half expect them to finish their never-concluded statements with something similar to, “And where’s the value in that?” Now, I don’t believe that this attitude is often negative, so much as it is genuinely curious. Those outside of an English department can, understandably, struggle with the concept of English being a useful, valuable, course of study. In his Interdisciplinarity, Joe Moran discusses John Crowe Ransom’s argument that “the discipline of English needs to develop a clear professional footing…” (38). Majors such as Business, Economics, Biology, Chemistry, and the like, are known to have relatively clear post college goals. You can get a businessman, an economist, a biologist, and chemist right off the bat from those majors. Say you’re an English major, and the first (often only) thing that pops into a person’s mind is “teacher”. If that career is not what you’re aiming for, like myself, you’re faced with a sea of puzzled expressions; there is no “Englishman” profession waiting at our finish line. Also, why are we still struggling with the idea of valuing the English major so long after the discipline’s establishment? Continue reading “A Thought on Value”

Literature is a Window

As this semester rushes forward, and though I fully recognize that it’s only the first month of my first year, I have had numerous ups and downs, revelations and un-revelations, regarding my sense of security in my major. I feel as though I have gone through so many of the motions already: is this the best place for me, should I be putting my efforts into something with more external purpose, is this all just a waste of time? I have spent many a night, face down on my pillow, thinking to myself that majoring in English “could only be for” future teachers or the well-off, who are able to afford to simply study what interests them regardless of potential career options. I fall into neither of these categories.

Sorting through the layers of these questions and concerns, one alone has the capacity to encompass the rest: what am I doing here? Continue reading “Literature is a Window”

Literature Aiding Feminism

Upon reading Joe Moran’s Interdisciplinarity I was struck, once again, with a connection that could be drawn between a topic of his, and something alive in my own encounters:

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman was penned in 1792 by Mary Wollstonecraft as a manifesto for the oppressed women of England. It is a passionate and lively text, even to its modern readers, written by its author in six feverish weeks. What is important to note about this text, is that it was not a novel; it was not poetry, not a play, not anything creative and fictional. Wollstonecraft’s vindication was a thought provoking piece that had a foundation on nothing but real societal issues of her day. For women writers of the 18th century, this was unheard of. They were expected to produce works that, “all tend to make women the creatures of sensation” (Wollstonecraft 79), as if they could have no desire for substance and knowledge. Wollstonecraft actually condemned the women of her time who submitted to producing such works that continued to oppress women by fostering fantastical realities in place of actual ones, because they were given a precious voice, yet chose to use it in betrayal. Continue reading “Literature Aiding Feminism”