Interview: Why you should be an English major and also burning down the patriarchy…

By Taylor Blasko

I tried to write this blog by interviewing two English students here at Delaware Valley University. Instead what sort of happened is both of my interviewees took over and I became a bystander/eavesdropper to this conversation. Which I think is a valuable thing. In this blog, I will try to recount and highlight the main points that Katelyn and Wendy brought up. I had questions written down but I was only allowed to ask one of them before the interview took off with a mind of its own. My original thought for this interview was to ask, “Why become an English major,” and the thoughts of this question are riddled throughout, but the question that really ended up being answer here was, “Why do people think they don’t need English?”

I started with asking how or why they thought there was so much judgment when you tell people you’re an English major…

Katelyn: I don’t know why people think that if you’re an English major you don’t know anything else except “This is book,” I know other things, I listen in my other classes, unlike how nobody else listens in their English classes because they think it’s not important.

Wendy: Most people bash English and say they are never going to take another English class again, but the reality is they are going to use it again. They need to write stuff in their science fields and they can’t do it. They can’t see how the writing would help them, yet they need it.

Katelyn: Which is bizarre to me because I think in almost any other field you can make the argument you won’t use it. I can argue I don’t need chemistry, biology, trigonometry, on a daily basis in my everyday life. Except English, I feel this is the only field you will need the rest of your life, and need every day.

Wendy: Exactly, you need to communicate, what are you going to do otherwise?

Katelyn: Also, you need metaphor for everything. Just because you know kind of how to speak doesn’t mean you know all the ins and outs of the language. You can’t form thoughts that you need to without metaphor, or at least an understanding of it. But also, just because you can speak a language doesn’t mean you can teach it. Some people use a language orally but can’t use it on paper or utilize the rules of the language correctly.

Wendy: I agree, and we see that so much as writing tutors. When people ask for help on grammar they really need help with the language. They don’t know how to utilize the rules of their own language correctly. But also, there are bigger theories and bigger concepts then just using the language correctly or just reading a book. I’m being trained how to critically look at the world around me and it’s a lot more complicated then you think it is.

Katelyn: That’s the thing though, right? I still don’t know what to do with people that refuse to look at books except for just escapism. I used to only read for escapism because I’m not sure I wrote myself into everything I read, I did it just for fun. That change came in college.

Wendy: You need to remind yourself that it’s not just an escape, you need something to look back on to make the world better. That’s the point of literature.

Katelyn: I do think English ruins you in that sense, because you can’t read anything for escapism anymore. I can pick up a teen fiction and suspend irritation for a while, but after I’m done reading I know it’s problematic.

Wendy: Yea, but you need that….it’s hard to turn off the critical thinking for a while.

Katelyn: How do you convince someone that you have to read the depressing stuff? It’s not all about just being entertained all the time. But nobody looks at books like that, people don’t look at anything critically unless their English class tells them to.

Wendy: The thing is, we need to look at everything critically like that. You think we have this nuanced language until you look at something like the gender binary. For example, the word “guy” is this neutral title for males, but women don’t have that. You call a female a “lady” and she is perceived as old, you call her a “girl” and you take away her right to womanhood by making her lesser.  Gender identity is messy. A lot of identity is messy. Who has the authority to define shit? Even in science, you can’t use the phrase “climate change” anymore…that’s a problem…because then what do you do? Start regulating thoughts and then what? Eventually ban books? Messing with language limits yourself unless you use it in a subversive way.

That’s, right Wendy and Katelyn. Burn it down.

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