February 2014 English Major of the Month
Mehak KhanHometown: Islamabad, Pakistan
Year in school: Senior
Has studying English lived up to your expectations? Why or why not?|
It's definitely been a worthwhile experience! I've become a stronger writer, reader, and academic in the process, and have gotten to read across the board along the way. Being in the Honors Thesis Cohort has been a valuable experience--I am exploring the relationships between Pakistani Anglophone fiction and video games, and I am excited that I found the right space to be able to explore both these interests of mine in tandem.
Do you have a least favorite book?
When I was in the tenth grade, my principal had us read one of her favorite books for our English class: The Village by the Sea by Anita Desai. I have never quite recovered from the meandering awfulness of it all. Can Wordsworth be a book? I am not the biggest fan.
On the flip side, what are your favorite pieces of literature?
Franny and Zooey by Salinger is pretty high up there--I'd highly recommend it to any English major in college, Salinger throws in a couple of fun jibes at us that made me giggle. Where would I be without my love for Keats' odes, Faiz's Urdu poetry, and Manto's short stories? But I think, for me, there's (almost) always something to love about a text. It's been easy to forget that, reading as we do from a critical perspective, but I've recently learned to take a step back and value the poem/novel/essay for what it is. Guilty pleasure: Little Women. Most influential to sixteen-year-old Mehak: Moth Smoke by Mohsin Hamid. Oh, and Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham.
Do you think that there are any fields of study that don't receive enough attention in the department?
Critical theory! So many seniors I know have taken their theory requirement senior year, and it has completely changed the way they want to approach literary texts--but it's too late for them to get a chance to do so at that point.
Has living in New York City impacted your studies or research interests in any significant way?
New York City is at present the home of a pretty intense indie game development scene, and being involved with that has hugely influenced the way I think and the things I want to do. I've also gotten the chance to meet many contemporary authors along the way, as part of the Contemporary Literary Series (shameless plug) and otherwise--we invited Mark Z. Danielewski and Zoe Heller to speak, and it has been an incredibly rewarding experience. Jon Stewart showed up to my Intro to Media Studies class! Being in the city is both exhausting and invigorating.
What are some of your extracurricular interests? Are you involved with any student groups on-campus?
I was President of my Res Hall's council sophomore year (what up Palladium!) and ended up being a part of the Inter-Residence Hall Council, which was a cool experience and really helped me get acquainted with student life at the University better. Since then, I've been closely involved with the NYU Game Center, which is the department for Game Design. I've gotten the chance to help host national game conferences, curate exhibits at the Open Library at Tisch, and have met some of the quirkiest designers in the indie and commercial world! And I have been lucky enough to work closely with the Department of English as a CLS Fellow, helping to bring major authors to classrooms all over the English department.
What are a few of your favorite words?
Ooh. Ludology! Replicant. Counterintuitive. Unreal. Paradigm. Post-postmodern. Anti-exclusionary. It's the ones that mean the least that are the most fun to write sometimes!
Which writer, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Antagonistic intentions for this encounter are certainly welcome.
I get the feeling Nathaniel Hawthorne and I wouldn't make the best of friends--paying him a visit could be fun.
What were your favorite classes, English-related and not English-related?
My favorite English classes were Professor Gajarawala's classes--The Postmodern Anglophone Novel was intensely challenging, and as far away from the anodynity (is that a word? anodyne-ness? as an English major, I feel like I always have poetic license) of World Literature. I took a Joyce Colloquium junior year with Professor Bender, that was pretty cool too. Hands down the best class I've taken so far? Thinking About Games, at the NYU Game Center. It was a crash course in the intersections of games and critical theory, and has been a huge influence on my approach to literary studies and criticism. Thanks, Charles Pratt!
Any special messages, shout-outs, or acknowledgements?
Thanks for thinking of me, this has been a great honor. And a big thank you to all my professors along the way. I can't believe I'm a second-semester senior, and I couldn't have gotten here without you all! Thank you Professor Robson, Guillory, Hoover, Gajarawala, Watson, Boggs, Harper, Bender, Gilman, and all the others I've gotten the opportunity to interact with. Hi Mom and Dad! I'm on the internet!