April 2016 English Major of the Month
Hometown: West Islip, NY
What made you decide to become an English major?
I kind of feel like the English major was chosen for me at birth. I never thought I was going to be anything else; it was just a natural choice based on how much I read and write every day.
What has been your favorite English class so far?
I have two! My first one is Twentieth Century African-American Literature with Professor Nicholas Boggs because that was the definitive class that shaped my writing for the rest of my career at NYU. The books we read were spectacular, and we related works like Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston to Michael Brown and Freddie Gray’s deaths. It was the first time for me that a class took the literature at hand and threw it up against a modern background.
I am currently taking Emergent Literature with Professor Simon Trujillo, and it’s the hardest English class I have ever taken. Because of the literary canon, I have never taken a class based on Chicano/a and Indigenous literature, so I have no background in the genre. Every topic we tackle is like I’m discovering a new planet in the solar system. This class really has opened doors for me within the genre, and I am glad I took it as my last English class at NYU.
Which fictional character would you most like to meet? What would you two do?
This is so hard! Of course, I would say Hermione or Luna Lovegood because those were my fictional best friends growing up. I think we would practice some spells, look for the wrackspurts and fight for house elf rights. All in one day.
This might be an unpopular opinion, but I would also like to meet Mr. Darcy and maybe punch him in the face and teach him how to properly court a young woman without coming off like a tool. Then maybe he could be a better suitor for Elizabeth.
What is your favorite line from literature?
Although I have some negative thoughts about the release of the book, I am currently in love with the line from Go Set a Watchman in which Harper Lee writes, “You may reach out and embrace all of Manhattan in sweet aloneness, or you can go to hell if you want to.”
Are you pursuing any minor, internships, or fields of interest outside the department that enhance or intersect with your study of English?
I am also a creative writing minor! Reading and writing intertwine so often that I think most English majors end up minoring in creative writing. I think it’s important to find your own voice in the field, so that you know where you stand against the “greats” of literature.
I also work at two separate libraries, which deal with books on a daily basis. I would say 17 out of 24 hours in my day are dedicated solely to books and writing.
Congrats on graduate school! What is it about library science and children's literature that appeals to you?
Thank you! I have worked in the same public library for six years, and I have worked at Bobst for almost two years now. I knew that when I was 16 and looking for a part-time job that I only wanted to work with books, and it just so happened that my public library was hiring. It was the beginning of a really boring love story.
I was lucky enough to work alongside the best children’s librarians who are really dedicated to their field, whether that is in the literature, the programs, or the library field itself. Their passion for their work really resonated with me over the course of six years. I want to work in a field that promotes the love of literature, especially to young, impressionable minds.
Children’s literature is honestly the best genre, and don’t listen to anyone that tells you anything different. The canon rarely recognizes children’s literature (as far as my studies go. I could be totally wrong), and when I met with someone who has a doctorate in children’s literature, she told me that most people who study in the field are “children’s literature apologists,” meaning that they constantly have to apologize to fellow English majors for their choice in studies. And I think that ‘s because children’s literature is not recognized as art like canonized books are. The genre holds so many options for growth like in picture books, board books, easy chapter readers, graphic novels, chapter books, non-fiction, and even pop-ups! There are so many options and choices to convey children’s stories!
If you could create your own class, what would it be?
I would probably make a class solely based on feminist literature in the 1970s, but I would pick books based in different racial and ethnic backgrounds. So I would have books by Latino authors next to books by black authors next to books by white authors next to books by Korean authors. I would let the students dip their toes in a piece of literature from different perspectives, so that feminist literature is not categorized into one small field.
Or maybe a class on Newbery Award winners. Or books that should have won the Newbery Award. Or maybe a class on movies that were turned into books or books that were turned into movies. Or maybe a class solely about the post-post modernism movement! There are so many options!
What advice would you give to students considering majoring in English at NYU?
Do it! The readings are worth it, and the discussions are wonderful, and the professors are the best. And I’m not just saying this because I was awarded NYU’s English Major of the Month for April 2016. I’m saying it because I love literature, and NYU’s English major is the best way to support this passion. Just make sure to take classes that go outside the canon/survey courses so that you get a good taste for what’s really out there.