The first thing you need to know is that democracy makes me sweat. Rather, the process of working with a group of people to make some decision or produce some collective work makes me sweat. There’s just something about talking constantly with people for hours to figure out what their ideas are, what ideas they like, what ideas they don’t lik…[Read more]
It may not look much like an ant hill, but I’m willing to argue that this scene is a prime example of stigmergy. Each broker scurrying around the trading floor is in their own way a dutiful scavenger, each LED s […]
The way “Bloodchild” dealt with non-consent bothered me. The way Clay’s Ark dealt with non-consent bothered me. The way Fledgling dealt with non-consent bothered me. As Dr. McCoy said at the end of class on Monday, patterns are emerging.
At the root of my discomfort, I think, is the model that each text creates in dealing with need. I menti…[Read more]
It was a pleasant surprise to find last week that I enjoyed “Bloodchild” even more the second time I had to read it for a class. Part of the cause for my newfound enjoyment was probably knowing what to expect. I was prepared for the visceral rejection I felt when reading descriptions of T’Gatoi’s arthropodal form, when reading about what I conside…[Read more]
As the year has gone on, I’ve watched our class’s blog grow into a home for interdisciplinarity, for musings on our texts and for thoughts on the experiences of an English major. I’ve watched people argue with themselves and grapple with their own opinions on English as a major and the opinions of those around them. I’ve watched conversations take place between family members, suitemates, patrons of Geneseo regarding the discipline of English. I’ve watched ideas take form, as well as arguments. I’ve watched revelations in motion.
And I have not participated.
I’ve discussed the English major. I’ve certainly grown and my perceptions of my major have grown. But I haven’t discussed my own personal trials and tribulations, like most everyone else. My posts have been of a different timbre. My struggles with the major have been purely academic and analytical, and not at all personal. I’m realizing only now, at the end of the semester, that I’ve been in a different English class from many of the other students in Reader and Text.
I lead a double life. I arrived at Geneseo with a double major in English and Economics already declared. This semester I took two classes for my English major (ENGL 201 and ENGL 203) and two for my Economics major (ECON 110 and MATH 221). I chose to study English (like the general consensus has been) because I always loved to read and write, and I decided if I was going to get a piece of paper that said something about me I wanted it to say that.
But I also chose to study Economics.
Many blog posts that I’ve read have centered around an antagonistic character who asserts that English is a major that won’t do anything to get a job. That it’s a waste of tuition. My parents were two of those people. My father was pushing for me to go into a hard science until I won the Humanities Student of the Year Award at my high school in the eleventh grade. My mother also wanted to make sure that I wasn’t going to waste my time at college and have to move back in with her like she’d heard about so often on television and the radio. They agreed to let me major in English (Creative Writing, more specifically), but only as long as I neutralized the acidity of a wasted degree with the bitter base that was Economics. And I’m glad they did. Because I realized recently that I’m at college to, at one point in my life, make as much money as I can. We all are, to some extent. It certainly has to be a factor when one goes about accruing tens of thousands of dollars in debt. I like English, but if I didn’t have to worry about making as much money as possible I’d be somewhere far away, probably doing something equal parts stupid and fulfilling. Which I fully intend on doing anyway in the future. But this is, in my opinion, the best time in my life to go to college. So here I am. English is just the spoonful of sugar.
I love social sciences. I love working through people and how they think. I love categorizing the world until it’s all color coded and annotated up to the tops of my eyeballs. Recently I’ve started to think that this might be unhealthy. But so is smoking. I’ve loved social science for a decade now and I haven’t gotten lung cancer yet.
Economics always felt like a fringe social science. I liked aspects of it but I wasn’t engrossed in it the same way that I was in political science or history. I think it served as a shield, though. A shield from all of the hate for English that a lot of you all have been feeling from people you know. When I told everyone I was studying English and Economics, I imagine that second major protected me from similar sentiments.
I know for a fact that I’m not the only double major in our class. I wonder if other people who are studying other subjects have had similar experiences. I’ve often (ironically) felt in class like both an insider and an outsider, as an English major and as more. And I wonder why it is that I had a different experience. I wonder why it is that I didn’t have such a personal bonding with the major. I can guess, obviously, but that’s a whole different blog post.
I think that a lot of things that were posted on here were a bit counterproductive. This was originally introduced to us as a space to bounce ideas regarding interdisciplinarity off of. It expanded on that, and I’m fine with the change since I like having a broader range to work in, but that was clearly supposed to be a large portion of the dialogue that we maintained over the course of the year. And I think that quite a few of the posts about English majors being antagonized have actually ended up antagonizing interdisciplinarity itself. They establish a binary of those who are English majors and those who are non-English majors, and while I realize that Joe Moran discusses this and how the categorization of education has created these binaries, he also devotes a chapter in Interdisciplinarity to how English can transcend these categories and intermingle with the disciplines. When I read a post that tells me “English majors do something that others cannot” (which is from an actual post that I won’t cite for anonymity’s sake) and other musings on academic isolationsim, I can’t help but think that this is not what Moran had in mind for discussions that his book would spark. And this is coming at the very end of the year when the blog posts are starting to sputter out, so I don’t expect to change the content. For anyone who’s actually bothered reading this far, it’s just something to think about going forward as an English major.
And for Dr. McCoy (if even you’ve made it this far), I hope you liked what I wrote because you’ll be seeing it all again in my final self-reflective paper.
Before break I went to a lecture on neo-slave narratives that was presented by a former Geneseo undergraduate. The idea was that I was supposed to sit through the lecture and then write a paper about what it had taught me, for extra credit. Before you read it though, if you take anything away from it I hope it’s this:
1) Titles for lectures can be next to useless. Maybe they change once you go to grad school.
and 2) This class is only the beginning of our careers as English majors.
Here is that paper.
I decided to attend the “The Neo-Slave Narrative and the Novel” seminar, presented by Stephanie Iasiello, and although I can’t say that I absorbed much from the lecture itself I think I learned a fair bit of valuable information while I was there. First what I learned from the lecture though, since that’s what this paper is technically supposed to be about.
I was only half right when I said absorbed very little from the lecture. What the answer really depends on is how you evaluate that absorption. If I were to be graded on the percentage of how much I learned divided by the total amount of information presented I would absolutely fail this assignment. So much of what was discussed was, as we say in class, part of a conversation that I wasn’t prepared to engage in. The actual title of the seminar itself was misleading, I think. For the most part the lecture focused around one particular neo-slave narrative, a book called The Long Song, by Andrea Levy. The paper that Stephanie Iasiello was presenting was clearly intended for an audience who had read that novel along with several other neo-slave narratives and Levy novels. Most of the finer details of the seminar went astronomically, irretrievably over my head. However, if I were to be graded on how much I learned without any sort of frame of reference I think that I would earn significantly higher marks — because I did learn quite a bit from the forty minute lecture. For example, I learned that there is a woman named Andrea Levy. I also learned that she has written a novel called The Long Song, along with several others. I learned that there is a genre of narratives known as slave narratives, and even a revival movement known as neo-slave narratives. But I think the most valuable things that I learned were things that had nothing to do with the content of Iasiello’s paper.
This was my very first experience with most aspects of this type of seminar and it was a shock to say the least. I was thrown into a room full of people who were for the most part much, much smarter than me — especially with regard to the specific topic of discussion — and I listened to a lecture that I only understood about a quarter of. This was not an everyday experience for me. This was very much the opposite of everyday. This was baffling and bizarre and scary and horribly real. What made it all the more horrifying was the realization that this would not be an isolated experience. That, as an English major, this would be my reality. This, I realized, was the future that our class discusses in their blog assignments.
Of course, the information that I got from the lecture itself is valuable to what we’re discussing in class. Cane is neither a slave narrative nor a neo-slave narrative but a close cousin to both in that it discusses the tragedies of black life in America, even if it does take place a few years — or even centuries — after the typical timeframe of those genres. The themes of The Long Song are no doubt related and if I were to read the novel I’m sure I would be able to see the conversation taking place between the two. However, I would argue that what I learned about the format of these literary seminars and the lives of English majors is far more valuable. It will serve me well for the next four years and beyond. The next time that I attend a seminar like this, I won’t make the same mistakes that I made this time in not understanding the nature of the seminar prior to attending it. The time after that, I won’t repeat whatever mistakes I made the previous time. And so on. And so on, so that when I finally do get to the point in my college career when attending these seminars is not only helpful but mandatory, I think I’ll finally be ready for them.
Interdisciplinarity. Wow, there is a lot of interdisciplinarity in Zulus. Within the narrative itself, Everett generally limits himself to a story that’s relatable enough to avoid needing much support in a specialized field or to one so fantastical that it bunny hops over subjects of study onto another planet where they don’t even exist, along with other Earthling luxuries like basic biology. Where I’ve found hidden caches of references snaking out beyond the discipline of literature is in the chapter headings.
I’m currently in the process of combing through said chapter headings, for… research? Curiosity? The misguided assumption that novels should make sense?
I’m currently in the process of combing through said chapter headings. It’s a slow process. Each sentence needs to be Googled and then cross referenced with each other sentence. I’m starting to feel a bit like a conspiracy theorist, like all I need is a cryptic URL and a messy bulletin board before I’m on some government list. There are patterns, you see, in the references that are made. Many of them are interdisciplinary ones, like historical figures and events (the Zulu tribe, Napoleon Bonaparte, the Boston Massacre all on page 21), philosophical figures (Plato, Arsitotle, Immanuel Kant), mythological and theological figures (Zeus, Hades, Daniel, Lazarus), and biological buzz words (conceptus and evolution, evolution appearing at least twice), while some of them are references that remain mostly within the field of literature, like his multiple allusions to both John Dryden and James Joyce. There are also several references to African and American black culture and esteemed figures, like Ralph Waldo Ellison’s The Invisible Man, and Marcus Garvey, who was a Jamaican black rights activist.
The problem is that I have absolutely no idea how most of these relate to the narrative. Everett doesn’t explicitly discuss most of these topics, as far as I can tell, and I’m starting to think that’s my fault for assuming that an author would think about everything that’s put into a book. But if Everett really didn’t give any great amount of thought to these allusions then my frustration is also partly his fault. It’s his fault for creating a subject of literary analysis that yields nothing to that analysis. It’s his fault for being cryptic without reason.
But I hope that he isn’t just being cryptic. I hope he included these references as a clue, as part of the themes that he’s trying to develop. The two that I’m most interested in are race and religion. Race because it’s infuriatingly ambiguous throughout the novel. Alice’s race is neither stated nor properly implied, and although there are certain indications throughout the novel, anyone could interpret those indications in entirely different ways. That’s the trouble though. If Everett is trying to make a statement on race, he isn’t doing a very clear job of it. It’s possible that he stretched himself too thin in trying to address all of the different topics that he alludes to in his chapter headings. Or it’s possible that he didn’t stretch himself at all, that his work has no communicable intentions, that it’s all just a giant “fuck you” to his readers.
Religion. Religion is another interesting potential topic of discussion within the narrative. Alice works in the Department of Religion, categorizing citziens’ beliefs all day long. The rebels, who are without religion before Alice arrives, proclaim her to be a Devil-woman and adopt some sort of superstitious pseudo-theology after witnessing her preternatural feats. And the chapter headings are full of religious allusions — specifically, allusions to the Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. But again, what the novel is saying about religion is murky if it does say such a thing at all.
Zulus is, in short, exceedingly frustrating. I’ve wondered more than once while reading the allusions to other subjects and other works of fiction if Percival Everett wasn’t just desperate to get this book into different curriculums so that he could move copies. If that really was his intention — if post-structuralism and New Critical formalism haven’t sunk far enough into my brain to keep me from guessing at authorial intent — then you could say a lot of things about it, but you couldn’t say it didn’t work.
This is an interesting take on the question of why people view English majors as being pretentious. It reminds me of Dr. McCoy’s story about her undergraduate experiences, although I’d probably disagree with […]
What a terrible title for a blog entry. Zulus is a novel so full of allusions and literary maneuvers that Percival Everett had to start stuffing them into the chapter titles. Which specific example of allegory […]
Not sure if we’re supposed to post comments here, but we didn’t really discuss Meridian in class very much and I wanted to, so…
I think it’s a mistake to look for a conventional hero/villain, good/evil […]
Brendan Mahoney wrote a new post, Hypothetical Scenario: What If English Didn’t Exist?, on the site Reader and Text 3 years, 7 months ago
Sometimes I think there is no recognisable discipline of ‘English’, no genuine whole, but only a set of contrived frontiers and selected approaches which, for complicated historical and cultural reasons, have come to be known as a ‘subject’.
– Richard Hoggart
I love hypothetical scenarios. I love thinking about ‘what might be’ in most situations – world politics, technology, parallel universes – even if I have a cursory understanding of some of those subjects at best and even if my predictions are seriously flawed. The simple act of guessing makes my brain feel like the world’s most satisfied CPU as I crunch the numbers and weigh the options. This quote, by Richard Hoggart, made me wonder about a world without I.A. Richards and F.R. Leavis, a world without English.
Firstly, despite what I’ve posted here regarding the subject of English, I’m very loyal to the subject. I love it to death, and it’s what I’d like to spend my life with if I’m lucky enough to be in an agreeable situation. If English weren’t a subject I still would have had my parents called into the school because I wouldn’t stop reading on a science day. I still would have walked the halls of my middle school tripping over things because I was too far into the latest teen fantasy novel to stop reading in between classes. I still would want to live the rest of my life this way.
But what if wasn’t allowed to study it? What if none of us were? I guess I’d end up filling my second major with philosophy, or another social science to pair nicely with economics (major #1). Literature would still be a scholastic staple, I think. Being denied disciplinarity and boundaries, borders, limits I think English would seep deep into the roots of education. I think most subjects would end up incorporating famous relevant works into their lessons – done easily for the humanities, though less so for sciences and maths – in part because the school would require some continuation of the reading and writing skills that followed quickly after walking and talking, and also because it’s an incredibly efficient method of passing on information from the past. Rather than learn about the concepts that the Founding Fathers based our democracy on, students could read Voltaire or John Locke. Rather than learn about evolution, students could read The Origin of Species.
But I don’t think it would be the same. I don’t think I would get good enough at reading to feel like a super sleuth when I pick up on a novel’s subtleties. I don’t think I’d read as much as I do now. I’d like to think that I would still discover a passion for writing even if there were no classes to develop that passion, but the truth is that I just don’t know. And I’m glad I’ll never have to find out.
Within the first week of classes, we all contributed in creating an archive of questions that we had about the English major. We filled up an entire document with these questions — and I contributed a few myself — but there was one question I had that I still remember. I remember it because it’s the one question that I really wanted to see answered, although I can come up with a few clarifying ones when prompted. I’m sure it’s a question that many other members of our major have as well. It is: “Why are English majors viewed as prone to be pretentious?” And I think I’m ready to make a guess.
The answer is, simply, because we are. I understand that this is not a popular opinion, and I regret to inform anyone reading that this blog post will be lengthier than most so that I might clarify it.
To begin, I must make the meaning of the question that I’m answering explicit. First our noun, “English majors”. When I use this term, I’m referring to the comprehensive body. I don’t mean to imply that each individual English major struggles with this issue. Our verb, “prone”, is less cryptic. I’m asking why English majors as a whole are viewed statistically more likely to be pretentious. Speaking of… our adjective. The exact meaning of the word “pretentious” is particularly important, as are the exact meanings of most words that carry negative connotations. Its exact meaning is:
…which is exactly how I mean to use it. So another way to phrase my question would have been “Why is the comprehensive body of English majors viewed as comparatively more likely to contain people who try to act like they are smarter, more important or more cultured than they actually are?”
And once again I have to answer that it’s because it is. It’s more likely for one individual member of our major to be accurately described as pretentious than it is for one individual member of most other majors. My support for this is going to get a little wobbly as I’ll be using trends and patterns that I’ve personally observed. If you reject my answer because you think it’s unfounded and wrong, no hard feelings.
UNCITED ASSERTION #1: Most people like to feel smart. That, I hope, isn’t too controversial. Most people derive pleasure from getting A-plusses, creating works of art, solving crossword puzzles, etc.
UNCITED ASSERTION #2: Doing well in college, among other things, makes people feel smart. A degree is, if nothing else, physical proof that the recipient is at least slightly smarter. Not everyone is going to college to feel smarter. There are plenty of reasons to go to college. I’m only saying that one of them is to feel smart, and that some percentage of people go to college primarily for this reason.
UNCITED ASSERTION #3: It’s harder to be bad at English than it is to be bad at other subjects. I want to clarify that I don’t think English is easy. Any degree is earned, regardless of the subject. But the difference between English and many other subjects is that aspects of the English curriculum are subjective. In chemistry, biology and mathematics there are right answers and wrong answers. Yes or no. Points or no points on a test. The answers on an English “test” can be argued. There are any number of right answers, so long as they are argued properly. English is also based on skills that virtually every student acquires at a young age, those being reading and writing. Some students may find that twenty page papers or Russian formalist theory is beyond them, but they need to know how to read and write proficiently to learn most anything. Students who are good at nothing else are at least good at those skills. Joe Moran discusses this briefly in Interdisciplinarity when he outlines the birth of English as a discipline in Chapter 2. He talks about how English was founded “on an activity that every educated gentleman was supposed to be doing”. (Moran, 20)
That isn’t to say that there aren’t people who are bad at English. Some people are best at maths and sciences and terrible at everything else. But some people who do badly in English classes would do even worse in a major where there is only one answer per question. That also isn’t to say that there aren’t people who are really, really good at English. Just as with any other subject, there are people who are good and bad. My point is simply that it is easier to hide it if you are bad.
Based on other posts here, this is probably where I’ve completely lost/offended/earned death threats from many of you. And it’s exceedingly difficult to prove whether or not one subject is objectively harder than another beyond what I’ve just discussed. But I believe my third uncited assertion to be correct, and I believe that when these three assertions interact with one another, they result in students who want to feel smart but are unable to do so in a more concrete, objective field of study hiding their incompetence — and thus trying to appear smarter than they are — in a field like English. They are, by the definition of the word, pretentious.
This can happen in other fields. There are many students getting degrees in fields like computer science, engineering and biology who are not as smart as they believe — or would like to believe — that they are. They are, however, at least peripherally gifted in those fields because if they weren’t they would have found that out long ago. Students, like water, take the path of least resistance and if they are not good at a subject they will often default to a subject that is more difficult to be bad at.
So. If I really think that our major is prone to being pretentious, where does that lead me? Is there some solution to this dilemma? Something we can do to cut down on the number of people majoring in English to look and feel smarter than they are? I don’t think so. I think all we can do is each of us think for a good, long time about why we’re here. Like I said, this isn’t an issue that affects each English major personally. If we can assure ourselves that we’re here for the right reasons, then maybe we should stop worrying so much.
After all, if we’re sure — absolutely sure — that we personally aren’t pretentious, then why does my question matter in the first place?
In several chapters of Interdisciplinarity Moran has mentioned how useful popular culture can be to breaking down academic boundaries (specifically, in sections like “The Cultural Project of English” and “Science […]
I’ve given up trying to read Maria Alfaro’s “Intertextuality”. The language is thick and academic and the allusions to literary theorist after literary theorist are formidable. But it hasn’t escaped my notice that half of our class’s name (Cane Intertext) is derived from this text and that it will probably play a significant role in classwork and discussion over the next semester, so I decided to apply an online filter to the information in Alfaro’s analysis. I decided to do what teachers have discouraged me from doing since the sixth grade.
I decided to go to Wikipedia.
For anyone else who struggled through the explanation of intertextuality, I recommend opening up a web browser and simply googling the term. Wikipedia, which is the first link, provides more or less all of the information that is provided by the reading and it provides at least enough to give anyone a comprehensive understanding of what the term means and where it came from. The main difference between the online and offline resources, which makes Wikipedia a more efficient medium for the information, is that whereas Alfaro provides lengthy digressions Wikipedia is able to include a svelte link to another article, and whereas Alfaro includes reference after reference to related texts Wikipedia is able to include its own related readings at the bottom of the page and leave you unimpeded.
And, despite having skipped the required reading on intertextuality, I believe I’ve already found my first example of dialogism within the second arc of Cane. I was reading through the arc again this weekend in order to refresh my memory for discussion on Monday, and my recent experiences with Julia Kristeva’s intertextual ideas emphasized some of the things that missed on my first read through. In particular it emphasized similarities between a specific vignette of Toomer’s, Rhobert, and a book written about eighty years prior to Cane by Henry David Thoreau, Walden; or, Life in the Woods. Most Americans – and certainly most English majors – are at least peripherally familiar with Walden. What most people understand as the basic premise is that Henry David Thoreau attempts a two-year experiment living and writing in the woods, but what I learned when I actually began to read the book is that there is no basic premise. Anyone looking for a narrative within Walden will be disappointed. It is not a novel, even by the loosest definition. It is Thoreau’s transcendental manifesto and his tomb of philosophy, and the cabin that he built essentially served as a giant wooden middle finger to nineteenth century society erected in the middle of the Massachusetts wilderness.
I won’t pretend that I’ve actually managed to survive reading the entire book, but I have read a significant portion of it – enough to gather some philosophical droppings, as Thoreau rants from page to page. However, one would need only read through the third page of Walden to come across a very similar series of images to the ones found in Cane’s Rhobert. In Rhobert, Toomer writes about a man who “wears a house, like a monstrous diver’s helmet, on his head”, using the house to represent the responsibilities that he has accrued and inherited. (Toomer, 55) Toomer also continues to describe the house itself as “a dead thing that weighs him down” as he walks, causing him to sink, trapped, where he is. (Toomer, 55) Thoreau describes an almost identical sight in Walden when he writes about men he has seen physically weighed down by their houses that he has “met nigh crushed and smother under [their] load, creeping down the road of life, pushing before [them] a barn seventy-five feet by forty, [their] Augean stables never cleansed, and one hundred acres of land, tillage, mowing, pasture and wood-lot”, implying that physical possessions are actually burdens rather than comforts. (Thoreau, 3)
Both of these texts are clearly at least marginally connected by their similar images and ideas, and they are therefore intertextual. But, as T.S. Eliot states in his essay “Tradition and the Individual Talent”, “the past should be altered by the present as much as the present is directed by the past” and Toomer has clearly chosen to discuss a distinctly different concept while relying heavily on Thoreau’s original image. (Eliot) Toomer, unlike Thoreau, emphasizes the burden of Rhobert’s family in addition to the weight of the house itself by stating that “the stuffing” within the already hefty house is “alive”, and that at the same time “it is sinful to draw one’s head out of live stuffing in a dead house”. (Toomer, 55) While Thoreau was clearly railing against the dilemma of inherited land and jobs in his age, Toomer has expanded upon this rant to include the crushing weight that he believes men like Rhobert feel from supporting a family as well as whatever meager property they’ve been given.
That was just an observation that I made and that I felt like sharing, and I look forward to discussing it more in class.
Eliot, T. S. “Tradition and the Individual Talent.” The Sacred Wood: Essays on Poetry and Criticism. London: Methuen, 1960. Print.
Thoreau, Henry David. Walden; Or, Life in the Woods. Boston: Beacon, 2004. Print.
Toomer, Jean. Cane. New York: Liveright, 2011. Print.
When it took me almost three hours to read through the Introduction (sixteen pages) of Joe Moran’s Interdisciplinarity, I chose to believe that it was an isolated incident. A dry, factual beginning. Many works of fiction and nonfiction alike begin slowly, if a little faster than Moran’s creeping exposition. I told myself, going into “Interdisciplinary English” to put what I had read behind me and give the rest of the book a chance. But, after wading through the entire first chapter I have to wonder if even Moran himself knows at any given time where he’s going. Through vague headings such as, “The Cultural Project of English” or “Literature, Life and Thought” and through his refusal to give the reader any idea what he might be discussing before he discusses it, Moran has crafted a narrative that reads like the lecture of a sleepwalking humanities professor. (Moran 32, 23)
He has also thus far failed to answer what are considered two of the principle questions of academic writing: “Who cares?” And, “So What”? (Graff and Birkenstein, 92-101) That, I believe, is the true reason why this book reads like a legal document. In almost fifty pages, Moran has yet to give any inkling as to how the dilemma of ‘interdisciplinarity’ is relevant to… anyone. Or anything. He has barely brushed by the subject of why it matters. Even throughout the Introduction (while he’s setting up the premise for the rest of the book) in between a whole Academy’s worth of philosophical name dropping, the closest Moran gets to telling us why this all matters in the first place is by relying on the negative connotations of words like “narrow” or “specialize”, or by referencing what other people have to say on the subject, as he did in the case of Jose Ortega y Gasset and his “learned ignoramus”. (Moran 5, 11) And until he does, this book will continue to take me hours upon hours to read through.
As far as the actual content of the book is concerned, I’ve yet to decide how I feel. It has, in spite of its lack of life, forced me to challenge the system of education that public and private colleges across the country have been using for the length of my life dozens of times over. It is a thought that has never once occurred to me, but as I think it through now I can see that there are clear merits to Moran’s argument. Nearly everyone believes in a well-rounded education spanning multiple disciplines, to some extent. That’s why there are educational requirements in every state – and now even some that exist on a national level. These requisites alone aren’t definitive proof that interdisciplinarity is widely encouraged, but they are proof that the majority of the country is in favor of a well-rounded education up through grade twelve, and they do end up facilitating interdisciplinarity by encouraging that classes be created which span several disciplines in order to – if nothing else – allow students to fulfill more requisites in less time. Plus, I’m really, really, really bad at science. And English is easily my favorite subject. But at the same time, I’m also an economics major and I understand that specialization is good for an economy and its people. And the system that Moran describes, one where English or any other subject is an academic focal point, has yet to make any progress despite Moran’s lengthy and detailed accounts of it. He has yet to prove to me that his idea of interdisciplinarity even exists, and it is not because I’m just a harsh and cynical skeptic. He seems to be so caught up in his idea and in the account of his novel that he has forgotten that his readers are not figments of his imagination and that we do not immediately understand each graceful leap of intellect that he takes across the pages of his book as he does.
I can only hope that at some point over the course of us reading this book, we do.