If you’ve ventured even two feet outside of your room within the past couple of weeks, it should come as no surprise to hear that the Kenyon Review is beginning a brand new lecture series called “Writers on Writing.” The title is pretty self-explanatory: during the next few months, authors are going to filter through Cheever Room, each talking about their successes and making us believe our dreams are at least at arms’ length. What a great way to liven up our sullen, wintry campus, am I right?
No. I’m wrong. Sorry, internationally-renowned journal that has amassed more subscribers than my Caples double has Asian beetles, but your lecture series is tired. I mean, talks by adults about English? Seven eighths of this campus is crawling with ambitious amateur writers. Reinforcing the old “Kenyon’s-English-Program-Is-One-Of-The-Best-In-The-Nation” trope is no way to go about spicing things up. You want a party? Try hosting one of these series:
1. “Fighters on Fighting.” Stone Cold Steve Austin. Andre the Giant’s grandkids. This girl who hit this other girl with a shovel. Wouldn’t you love to hear how they achieved all they’ve achieved? How their fame has affected their fists and vice versa? No? You just want to give them all lectures on how the popular brand of smack-in-the-nuts entertainment most notably marketed by America’s Funniest Home Videos is slowly destroying our collective sense of human empathy? Yeah, me too. It’d be a cool series, though.
2. “Knighters on Knighting.” Since Queen Elizabeth II is the only living human who can lay full claim the title of “knighter,” she would have to be on campus for at least a month to give every lecture in this series. Not only would this put Kenyon on the map for good – it would also give me a chance to fulfill my lifelong dream of smelling the Queen. (I have this inexplicable yet overwhelming sense that she smells like sweet pea blossom.)
3. “Citers on Citing.” Get the Purdue OWL people in here for a couple of weeks. I have a few thousand questions for them. They’ve made my life a living hell, and now it’s their turn to be put on blast. [Ed. This is why all majors should use Chicago Style citations.]
4. “Goodnighters on Goodnighting.” How do I leave a nighttime social situation without making myself seem like an awkward, joyless indoor kid? How do I gently tell someone, “Hey, a new episode of Sonic Boom is on YouTube and I vastly prefer animated hedgehogs to your company so I’m sorry but I’m going to have to leave your Lost marathon party”? These are the questions which define a generation; these are the questions which demand answers.
5. “Righters on Righting.” Do you ever wonder if the things you do are the things you should be doing? If anything you say actually carries meaning? If people like your authentic self or if they like you for who you pretend to be? If this vast, limitless universe holds a place for you or if you’re just living on borrowed time? If your whole existence is building up to something bigger than yourself? Could we bring in a series of lecturers that could reassure us of our own autonomy and purposefulness? I am scared and small.
(In all seriousness, be sure to check out the Kenyon Review’s new series, “Writers on Writing.” More information can be found at their website.)