December 2015 English Major of the Month
Hometown: New York, NY
What inspired you to major in English?
I spent a year as an acting student at Tisch, where I quickly realized that the dramaturgical aspect of theater was my favorite part. Although I wasn't sure when I transferred to CAS exactly into which industry I wanted to move, I loved the idea of a major that would instill in me skills—reading, writing, speaking, and listening—rather than just information.
Do you have a favorite place or time to read?
In a cozy armchair during the winter—with a cocktail.
Do you have a favorite book, or author, or literary movement or period?
I think that Eleanor Catton's mind is pretty spectacular and I can always expect to find lots of play with the form when I read her books. If I'm looking for material about which to write academically, I'll pick up a Keats poem any day of the week. I find that his body of work is compatible with virtually every mode of criticism.
What was the last literary work that really moved you profoundly?
Ta-Nehisi Coates's Between the World and Me. I've just finished it for a second time and it has dramatically altered the way that I think as I walk through the world.
What classes have you most enjoyed, either in the department or outside?
I'm loving Maebh Long's Deconstruction course; I never thought that I would meet somebody who can explain Derrida clearly. John Guillory's British Literature II showed me what a great lecture looks like. Also, Richard Halpern's Texts and Ideas course was a godsend and one of the most comprehensive, immersive syllabi I've ever read.
If you could create your own class, what would it be?
I'm a really big fan of the American epic. Novels like Kavalier and Clay or Middlesex that do the cross-generational thing. I'd like a class reading those works alongside classical epic poetry.
Can you tell us more about your internship and the Rudin scholarship?
I intern at FilmNation, a sales, financing, and production company with offices in New York and L.A. The brunt of the work involves reading and writing. My ability to analyze scripts and articulate what I find successful or unsuccessful about them is directly related to what I've learned in the English department at NYU. As a part of procuring academic credit for the internship, I've also been partaking of a seminar led by Nicholas Boggs, designed to create a space in which students can discuss how an internship is—or isn't—serving them. It's been immensely helpful and preparatory and has helped me navigate a working environment where, although I want to impress and excel, the primary focus should be my education. It's easy to get locked into a difficult dynamic in an internship, but the seminar has gone a long way toward helping me advocate for myself.
The Rudin scholarship is a grant from the Rudin family for which CAS students pursuing an internship may apply. The grant is worth $1,000 and is offered to students receiving need-based financial aid with the intention of freeing them from the pressure to work a paying job in addition to balancing coursework and an internship. As a student who juggles a part-time job, a two-day internship, and a full course load, I can speak to how important grants like these are. I was not expecting at all to receive it, but that was certainly a nice email to get on a Wednesday afternoon.
What's your ideal career? Where do you hope your English degree will take you?
I'm heading into the film industry. Surprisingly, about half of the people that I meet and work for in the industry started out with English degrees. They're valuable, I promise!!
What is your favorite thing, or the most valuable thing, that you’ve learned in your study of literature?
When your thoughts feel half-baked, step away. I've written most of my best sentences on the G train three hours after I wanted the idea to come to me. Oh, and that Harold Bloom wrote a novel called The Flight to Lucifer and then hated it so bought all of the copies, but Laurence Lockridge still has a first edition.
What advice would you give to students considering majoring in English at NYU?
Take more than one class with each professor. Spend time in the department. Do an internship. Reading for pleasure will teach you as much about how to write as will reading for coursework. And for God's sakes, go to these brilliant people's lectures!