I’m a bad English major.
“But Gracie, your articles are so captivating! Every time you post one, I wet my pants with excitement! Look, it’s happening now!”
I know, I know. Calm down, small one. I know how you feel about me. But seriously, despite my obvious blogging prowess, I’m a pretty poor example of a Kenyon English major. Every time I read a chapter of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, I have to hop on SparkNotes to get a layman’s rundown of the allegory I just grossly misinterpreted. (Sorry, Professor Prakas. I’m doing my best.)
But Kenyon’s a competitive place. No one (except me, because I’m super brave) wants to admit how horrible they are at criticizing Shakespearean verse and dissecting passage after passage of Walden (an anarchist or something goes and lives in some trees I guess, whatever, I’m bored, somebody bring me some ham). So, instead of admitting defeat and deferring to those among us who could get a book deal in the next five seconds, why don’t we plebeians pretend to be something we’re not? Lying about being a well-read, articulate sonofalawyer is as easy as parody shows make it seem.
- Talk. Keep talking. Even if you’re not saying anything, keep moving your mouth. Never, ever stop. Eating? Chew with your mouth open. Writing a paper? Mouth every word you type to reinforce your own genius. When you can, try to repeat these buzz phrases: “from a feminist perspective,” “as reinforced by the text’s diegesis,” “harkening back to Geoffrey Hartman’s theory,” and “thus strengthening the biblical allegory.” Remember: everything can be a biblical allegory.
- Take notes everywhere. In class? Scribble furiously and completely illegibly about literary theory. At lunch? Chuckle while silently taking notes on how those around you embarrass themselves, David Sedaris-style. (That’ll be in my next collection of short stories, you’ll think to yourself while smirking.) On the floor lamenting your unfinished paper? Write a beautifully depressing poem detailing your view of our collective human plight. As long as you’re jotting something down, you’re proving how great of an English major you are. Look at me; yesterday, I spent a half an hour writing “Too Many Cooks” over and over in a spiral pattern on a piece of notebook paper, declared it “postmodern” and turned it in for my Medieval Lit final. Did I get an A? No. But no one else needs to know that. I’m a visionary.
- Carry a recognizable book around. Gone Girl? You just wanted to see what the hype was all about. The Constant Gardener? Mediocre at best. War and Peace? Just a bit of light reading. You read 500 pages a week for fun, or so thinks that one girl in your poetry seminar (whose opinion seriously matters).
- Always have your laptop open. Additionally, never look even the slightest bit comfortable while sitting in front of your laptop. The only acceptable positions are the “Extreme Hunchback” (in which you’re bent so far over your laptop with your brows knit so forcefully that you begin to develop both scoliosis and number eleven lines within five minutes of beginning your paper), the “Exasperated Novelist” (in which you lean farther back than you previously thought possible, push the hair out of your face, roll your eyes and sigh so loudly the people in the next booth over at Starbucks notice you and assume you’re working on some sort of B-grade screenplay), and the “Overconfident Hotshot” (in which you drape your arm casually over your chair while consistently muttering “nailed it”).
- Wear little glasses. When you’re about to say something contradictory in one of your English classes, move them down to the tip of your nose and stare your opponent down like you’re some sort of fearsome librarian-Minerva McGonagall hybrid. Your point might be stupid, but damn, you’ll look scary smart makin’ it.