April 8, 2008

i miss being required to read

Commencement, 2001. The greatest thing about being an English major is that you are expected to read - and write - all the freaking time. Of course when you're going through this, it is pure hell and no one can tell you anything different. I did, however, fully appreciate being read to, and to this day cannot forget being enraptured by Dr. Mark Herberle's Beowulf. I've never read it through all the way by myself; 1) I am lazy and 2) I stubbornly cling to the most unlikely of hopes that someday, somewhere, I will sit in (or be invited to or sneak into) an early English lit class and have Beowulf's funeral read to me once more. That's all I want when I die ... for someone to be reading an old English epic to me in an accent so authentic it sounds nothing like English. I wish I could write a scholarly blog entry on B but alas, all I seem to have taken from the actual poem were 1) an as yet unfulfilled desire to listen to the whole text by a crackling English fire, over and again and 2) an immature and thankfully short-lived delight in referring to everyone I disliked as "Grendel's mother."

A short list of other loves cultivated in the UHM English program:

  • Tennyson's "Lady of Shallott" (my reason for picking up Libba Bray's A Great and Terrible Beauty)
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Overmicrowaved Sodexho-Marriott chicken sandwiches
  • Stephen Canham quizzes. Example of a bonus question after a quiz on Lord Byron's dramatic poem Manfred: "Name the British pop band Manfred Mann's greatest hit." (A: "Do Wah Diddy-Diddy")
  • Poe's "The Bells." Who does not love the word tintinnabulation?
  • Christopher Marlowe conspiracy theories
  • Amy Tan novels. They were what I'd use to wash down everything on the next list.

A much shorter list of allergies cultivated in the UHM English program:

  • Flannery O'Connor and pretty much all Southern Lit except "A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud."
  • commas
  • Mos Burger
  • Arthur Miller

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