Yesterday the professor for the English senior seminar I’m taking, Booker Prize Fiction, called me out for critiquing the lyrical repetition of the novel we’d just read, something most of my classmates found beautiful but that I found verbose and overwrought.
“Well, as a non-English major, I’m not really sure you can say that,” he joked, and my friends and I joined in laughing. I turned bright red and was a bit taken aback–hadn’t he told me just the other day how much he valued my contributions to the course? I stood my ground and maintained that the novel, one that had won the most valuable literary prize in Britain, felt too forced and just didn’t do much for me. Ten minutes later, with the class back in heated debate over some other element of the novel, everything had been forgotten, but I kept thinking about how I, a science major, was taking a seminar course for senior English majors…and was the only one of the fifteen of us who hadn’t had at least twelve or fourteen literature courses over the past six semesters.
Part of the beauty of attending a liberal arts college like Middlebury is having the chance to take courses outside of your comfort zone. I’d taken at least two lab-based courses every semester for the past three years, and this semester I had the chance to step out of BiHall, home to science courses, labs, and majors, to try something completely different. I’ve always loved to read and love to unwind with a novel after a day in class, but I hadn’t been able to fit a literature course into my schedule since my first semester at Midd, when I took both my First Year Seminar, Children’s Literature in Society, and a German literature course called The Exile Experience. This term, I read an award-winning novel each week before spending three hours each Tuesday afternoon debating its merits with 14 very opinionated English majors. I wouldn’t change that for anything, and I’m looking forward to taking two literature courses, one on global youth literature and one on American science fiction writing, in the spring semester.