May 2013 English Major of the Month
Elizabeth DabbeltHometown: Weston/Wellesley, MA
Year in school: Senior
Favorite book: Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner
|Where is your favorite place to read in New York City?
The west side of Union Square park. You meet the most interesting people there.
How do you relate to the literature you're reading?
That's a pretty difficult question. I guess I look for beauty, but I don't always subscribe to the "art for art's sake" motto. For some reason, I'm intensely interested in how literature and stories are inherited through the generations, but I'm not at all sure how I came to that area of interest.
What was your favorite English class here at NYU?
You can't go wrong taking a class from John Archer or Juliet Fleming. Archer's 6-student Faerie Queene seminar was definitely among the most rewarding classes I've ever taken--albeit extremely demanding. The more intimidating the subject matter, the more you get out of it. As far as Professor Fleming's Derrida seminar goes: don't take it unless your mind is ready to be blown twice a week at 9:30 am. No one teaches criticism better.
Do you have a favorite TA?
Definitely Randie Sessler. His passion for literature really made a difference in Brit Lit II. I never missed his recitations! But he also gave me helpful advice about researching and structuring papers. I don't think any of us will ever forget his thoughts on Byron.
What non-English classes do you recommend?
MICHAEL KUNICHIKA. That's not a class, but he is one of the most talented professors at this university--as in teaching and making people think deeply during discussions. And he's hilarious (just don't ever mention instagram in class). His Nabokov seminar is amazing, but that's no surprise for incest aficionados. I've heard excellent things about his other classes as well. The Russian department is definitely the hidden gem of 19UP.
Besides English, what else have you studied here?
My minor is Law & Society. My parents are still telling me to go to law school. I also took a lot of French classes. I wish I had time to study mythology or linguistics more extensively, but I don't at all regret how I've spent my time here.
What advice do you have for other English majors?
I hope that people interested in the major/minor get a good foundation in the older texts first (and not just Shakespeare, ugh). Foreign languages are also more important for English majors than people might expect. But every class can add rewarding dimensions to your reading and research. I wasn't looking forward to taking a MAP science course, but a background in genetics certainly helped me understand aspects of my thesis research.
How did you come up with your thesis topic?
I guess you could say I inherited it. My thesis is/was about sibling incest, temporality, and the inheritance of text and myth. I realized one summer that my two favorite novels had a million interesting parallels, but I couldn't find any criticism that discussed the texts side by side. I thought I could try and remedy that.
Tell me about your thesis-writing experience.
I really enjoyed the entire process, not least because of the wonderfully intelligent people I got to meet. It was an honor to work closely with Professor Harper on such a long-term project. And, as we have all said many times, without Professor McLane, we would never have been such a successful group of scholars. But, honestly, I don't have those nightmare memories of writing pages of my thesis at 3 am in Bobst. Once I started researching and writing, I just didn't want to stop. I still don't! And I hope I'll have the chance to continue in the future.
Are you happy to move on from school, at least for now?
It's definitely bittersweet. I wasn't really ready to let go of my thesis--Shanna can attest to that! But now that the semester is winding down, I think all of the current seniors can be proud of our accomplishments over the last few years. And that makes leaving a little bit easier.