A place for those who study English literature to express their discontent in everything from the misuse of apostrophes to lack of income. Some say we're pretentious asshats. They may be right. But at least we're well-read.
Anonymous said: Um hi. I'm going to major in English lit in a matter of weeks, but I'm still scared. I'm really really shy and quiet. Will these things affect my studies? Because most of the people I know (who are taking English lit) are really outgoing and they could really talk well. While I, on the other hand... I'm too timid. Any advice for the awkward, shy, and timid English majors? (I'm sorry to waste your time on this and thank you for answering.)
Hi there! Thanks for your question!
First, congrats on choosing English as your major (I couldn’t quite tell from your question, but it sounds like you’re just starting college, yea? In which case, congrats on that as well!)
I was fairly timid myself when I started studying English Lit. It’s natural to be nervous or a little scared when starting something new, I think. And English majors can be an intimidating bunch— especially the well-spoken ones. It’s very easy for a shy English major to fall into the trap of thinking Oh god everyone here knows so much more than me oh god I should’ve studied computer science instead.
The beautiful thing about literature, though, is that your interpretation of a work is just as valid as everyone else’s. And there are those English majors who will talk forever just because they like the sound of their own voice. So don’t let that make you feel inferior.
Will being reluctant to speak up in class affect your studies? It depends. In many classes, a percentage of your grade comes from participation. However, classes that require participation usually include a weekly discussion section led by your TA, and you’ll be interacting with a much smaller group than your lecture— around twenty people instead of a couple hundred. So that’s a good place to start building your confidence in talking about literature to a group.
(I will say this is all based on my experiences in the University of California system, so if things are different at other places, followers, let me know!)
Also, getting to know your TA and your professor can help a lot. A professor I know said to me once: “We love to be thought of as people.” Crazy, right? Coming to office hours, and asking questions, even after lecture or discussion— that can go a long way. If they see that you’re making an effort, even if you’re not offering up answers in lecture, they’ll think of you as a person, too. (I found that professors I took the time to get to know tended to be more lenient if I happened to miss a class or turn in something late, too.)
One final note: questions are never a waste of time. On tumblr, in class, wherever— ask away! How else are we supposed to learn?
I hope that helps!
This is how I feel after a whole week of non-stop reading for class.
lackadaisical: \ lack-uh-DAY-zih-kuhl , adjective;
1. Lacking spirit or liveliness; showing lack of interest; languid; listless.
Drowsy from the heat and from fatigue, he dozed to the steady lackadaisical clips of the mule’s shoes.
— Patricia Powell, The Pagoda