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Breaking down the English major

By Gary Kehoe

Are the folky tunes of Bob Dylan the fuel for the English major's fire

So you’re an English major, eh? How quaint. It is always pleasing to find those who share the passion for expression, both one’s own and that of others. It is this expression,however, which is one of the more complicated issues surrounding the English major. One cannot simply walk around expressing original ideas, to be sure. Behaving as such would cause complete chaos. Freshman English majors, you may have begun discovering this already. If you are still feeling a bit out of place in your English courses, you have reached the crossroads in your field. Adapt, or switch to Psychology. Individualism is something to be learned, and the means of achieving it as an English major are specific and cannot be circumvented. Therefore, immediate adherence to the following advice is imperative. From this point hence, pay close attention: This is the English major.

Appearance: Carry a messenger bag. No one will take anything you have to say seriously unless you have a messenger bag. The world needs wisdom, and you are the messenger. If you don’t have a messenger bag, switch to Psychology. Try to wear some sort of coat as frequently as possible; do so especially in warmer weather, and wear one made preferably of tweed or flannel. Elderly is the new black.

Wear glasses or say you wear contacts; nothing screams intellect like an optical disability (except, of course, a messenger bag). Sprout facial hair: a straight beard or the pubic equivalent; perhaps scruff, a soul patch, or goatee. What matters is neither quantity nor quality, so long as you indicate apathy towards hygienic convention. Likewise, you have the option of smelling either very, very good or very, very bad— choose wisely. Wear a beanie when it is hot and sandals when it is cold. Every article of clothing you own must be frayed, and be purchased this way, to indicate your outward rebellion to societal norms and inward appreciation of brand.

Ideology: Represent a combination of naïve optimism and intellectual realism; proudly state this when asked a “fun fact” about you on the first day of class. You are a liberal (mm, yes you are). You should enjoy a good protest, yet acknowledge the grand insignificance of life itself.

Music: Profess an appreciation for Bob Dylan (deep tracks only) and dismiss those who love “Blowin’ in the Wind,” as it is clearly the only song they know. “Blowin’ in the Wind” may very well be the only Bob Dylan song you know as well. This is irrelevant.

Social Skills: Do your best to finagle a conversation in any way possible so that you may use phrases including, but not limited to: “as such, therefore, hence, circumvent, to be sure and epanalepsis.” Purposely misuse these phrases around science majors; their obliviosness will reassure you that your grammatically driven wit does, in fact, make you smarter than the rest of the student body. NOTE: You will one day be reduced to writing brief captions for small-market science textbooks that few will ever read. This is also irrelevant.

Pastime: Spend much time searching for the “right word.” Spend more time searching for grammatical errors in friends’ conversation. Dedicate a great deal of time to acquiring many old books. For optional flare, read them.
Caffeinated Beverages: You despise everything that Starbucks stands for and will not be seen without a cup. Feel free to mix in some Monster, as you were up late last night listening to NPR.
General Outlook on Life: Nothing really matters. When feeling defeated, blame Capitalism and go sit by the lake. That’s about the gist of it. The previous stipulations are essential to your survival as English majors. One cannot study literature without first altering their entire existence to match the above criteria. Best of luck in the upcoming years! Oh, and most importantly, be yourself. That’s who everyone else is being.

Sincerely, one of the cool ones.

Special thanks to all my friends from Bliss Hall, who along with providing me with endless material, have given me a safe and kind intellectual community which I truly appreciate.


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