Surviving Senior Year: Over the Over-Analyzing
So this semester I’m taking my senior capstone classes. The seminar focuses on literature itself and the reflective tutorial focuses on literary theory and literary criticism. They’re supposed to be the culmination of everything we’ve ever learned as English majors. They’re supposed to extremely challenging, hardcore courses that push our limits. And they are extremely challenging and they do push my limits.
But they’re also really, really annoying.
Because the over-analyzing and the hardcore literary theory and the pages upon pages of papers making a point no one even really cares about is all well and good when you’re spending your life in the world of academia, but when you’re outside of that world, what’s the point, really? Because I’ve been sitting in class these past few weeks listening to people deconstruct these novels I was never really all that into to begin with, and that’s all I’ve been asking myself. What is the point? I’m graduating in four months and I’m never going to think about this again.
For the first day of class, we had to read these New York Times articles, a collection of pieces called “Why Criticism Matters.” My favorite in the bunch was written by Sam Anderson, a New York Times Magazine critic, and a man who apparently fully embraces the art of Twitter. The piece discusses the fact that the rise of technology, the creation of the iPad, and the world’s obsession with social networking is not the end of literary theory or the end of literature. But it is changing the way people access their literature, providing readers with a vast array of options, and challenging writers to get the attention of readers.
And Anderson has taken up his own challenge. He writes with energy, writes with conviction, writes in a way that inspires my interest. His writing style is creative and entertaining, and he makes his point without, as he so eloquently puts it, “producing the kind of killing dull reviews that seem intended for someone trapped in a bus shelter during a rainstorm, circa 1953.” He writes the way he encourages others to write. He writes the way I wish to write. He writes in a way that makes me want to not only keep writing, but to write myself, which in my opinion is the mark of a great literary critic. And he’s also a hell of a lot more interesting than the rest of them too.
Anderson writes intelligently and creatively, and I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with that. I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with wanting to be entertained by what I’m reading. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to be entertaining while I’m writing. And really, I’m just wishing that more literary critics wrote that way.
Because I’m over it. Completely. I’m over the papers, the tests, and the discussions. I’m over the senior thesis that’s nowhere near complete, the notes that I will never touch again after I graduate. I’m over the quote identification midterms and the thematic essays and the reading logs. I want something useful, and entertaining, and real. Maybe it’s the senioritis talking, but I’m over it. I’m over the over analyzing.
And I’m really, really ready to graduate.