March 2013 English Major of the Month
Angela WuHometown: Mahwah, NJ
Year in school: Senior
|Favorite Book: Man, where do I even begin? Picking a favorite book is like trying to figure out what I should order for delivery. There are way too many choices and it depends on what mood I’m in. At heart, I’m a Nabokov fangirl and I will always push people to read Lolita, but I think Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris is my favorite. There’s this intimacy to memoirs that can’t always be found in fiction, and Sedaris is one hilarious writer. I’d rather laugh than cry when I read. Only because I look like a puffy whale when I cry.|
Can you tell us about your academic career? Minors, concentrations, projects within the English Department?
Besides being an English major, I’ve completed a Computer Applications and Programming minor and I’m in the process of completing a Game Design minor. As for projects within the English Department, I’m a fellow of the Contemporary Literature Series in the undergraduate program.
Cool! Can you tell us a little more about the Contemporary Literature Series? What do you feel is the advantage to bringing more contemporary works and authors to our department?
CLS is a relatively new thing to the department. It’s a program that aims to make contemporary literature at NYU more noticeable and unified while creating an opportunity to advance its teaching and study.
You might’ve heard about (or attended) the Mark Danielewski event last semester, which we organized. It was our first event. Since then, we’ve had a lot of plans being set in motion. We’re going to have a main website listing our future events and articles/interviews related to those events as well as various social media outlets where we’ll be actively posting and sharing information related to contemporary literature. We want to strengthen the English Department’s community using CLS, including alumni. On top of that, we’re trying to build an online community, weaving both physical and digital interactions in order to build an exciting landscape for participants and readers.
Bringing more contemporary works and authors to the department exposes students to what I like to consider “the now.” Contemporary literature is just as important as the classics we study—we shouldn’t forget the works that authors produce in our modern era.
If you’re already foaming at the mouth for more information, I’d like to mention that the Department of English’s next upcoming First Wednesday Event is co-sponsored with CLS! This event features Gallatin professor Stephen Duncombe and an introduction of the new CLS fellows on April 3rd. We’ll have more information about the event as the event gets closer, but keep the date! It would be awesome if students could come attend—we’re as fabulous as we sound.
What do you do when not being an English superstar?
I work as a student researcher and text encoder at the Margaret Sanger Papers Project. It’s a historical editing project within the History department. The project’s main goal is to locate the papers of Margaret Sanger and edit/publish them. We have about three volumes of her work published and a select number available online. I encode Sanger’s speeches and articles with keywords so they can be searched and easily accessed through the database.
What else? I blog about “nerd culture” with a few of my friends. I do collaborative creative writing with strangers (also known as forum roleplaying—I know there’s a few of you out there!), design graphics and websites, and I play games when I can.
Clearly you have a wide range of interests. What led you to pursue an English major?
I read anything I could get my hands on when I was younger—when I was about ten, I begged my mother to buy a book about pregnancy because it was thick and I had the impression that thicker books meant better content. Obviously, I’ve since learned. But literature and words, they’re important to me. I express myself better with words than anything else. It was not a surprise to anybody that I chose English as my subject of interest.
Anecdote: I only spoke Chinese when I was a toddler. I had to take ESL in kindergarten through first grade, so I think it’s actually hilarious I’m majoring in English now.
What courses or professors have you really enjoyed in your four years here?
Any course that involved the digital humanities. Boo and hiss at me all you want, traditionalists! In all seriousness, I’ve had an instant attraction to courses that have a contemporary bend to them. This includes Computers and Literary Studies, Media Theory, and Working With Archives.
If you could make all students of literature take one class or learn one skill, what would it be?
Mathematics, because we haven’t cared about that since high school. Really, though, I’d say a little computer programming wouldn’t hurt.
Do you have a controversial literary opinion? Something you’d whisper to a friend for fear of a professor overhearing you and taking away your English major card?
Originally, I thought I would play it safe and say I don’t care for Dickens, but that’s a little boring. I suppose I’ll just admit it: I think Foucault is incredibly hard to get into and is, for lack of a better word, a black hole of frustration. A friend of mine got into a Facebook argument with me about this and tried to make me rescind my statement, but I stand by it.
What two authors, living or dead, do you think could create an amazing literary super-baby?
Either Herman Melville and Franz Kafka or Albert Camus and Franz Kafka. Not sure which one would be more absurd.
What are you doing after graduation?
Besides sobbing into my pillow because I never wanted to graduate, I’m probably going to work somewhere for a few years before attending graduate school. I’d ideally like to do something with the digital humanities, (digital) media, information/library science, or archival studies, but who knows what will happen. I’m only certain that I will be the fine owner of a cat… or cats.
What advice would you give to fellow majors, or underclassmen considering the English major?
The doubters will continue to doubt, you just need to ignore them and continue with being your fine English major self. It’s a rewarding experience, especially if you can’t live without reading and writing. There are so many facets and concentrations to the English major that you’ll find your niche sooner or later. Also, major tip: take advantage of your professor’s office hours!