Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The literary experience

To an outside perspective, the pursuit of an English degree often seems to be a frivilous use of time. When meeting new people, the conversation always goes something like this:

"Hey, I'm Kris, it's nice to meet you."
"Yeah, I'm ________, it's nice to meet you too. So do you go to MSU?"
"Yeah, yourself?"
"For sure. So what's your major?"
"I'm studying english actually."
(slightly taken aback) "Oh... that's cool. I'm a business major."

Although that is a very general model, it conveys the feeling I usually experience on a weekly basis. It has made me wonder many times what it is about an English degree that has been so stigimitized. Perhaps all these people share the same view as my father, that college is for studying areas that have "practical application" to the real world. Maybe it's because television has all but eliminated the necessity for reading as a form of gaining knowledge and people simply can't see the value of reading anymore. No matter what the underlying cause actually is, it has made me question myself many times. However, I know that I made the right choice when I crack open a good book and all my concerns evaporate in a matter of moments.

As Dr. Sexson said, literature is a form of catharsis, and although I didn't know it until this semester, I have always used reading as a way to escape. Through fights with parents and friends, death and disease, and growing up in general, literature has always been there, helping to exhibit the futility of whatever my circumstancially bound concerns may have been. It is only by taking this class that I have found the words to describe the experience that I have always been aware of.

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