Lit Theory: The Class That (almost) Ruined My Life

I’m siting here at the kitchen table, staring at what will become my lit theory final. It has one page, replete with instructions. I’ve printed the assigned readings. All i have to do is take the next few hours and actually do the thing. & and scares me. It shouldn’t. I know what we talked about this semester. I have tons of notes. I even have my huge freaking Lit theory book that is 1300+ pgs all ready to go. My brain should be able to flip through these at the drop of a hat. I should be able to understand which set of particular questions goes to which theory. For the most part, I do. And yet i sit here writing this blog and procrastinating. 

This semester has been hard. Yet this class, which is supposed to one of the hardest, and have one of the toughest grading profs, has almost been my easiest. for no good reason. It’s the class where i felt the most at home, and where i know others felt totally misunderstood as well. we bonded and i CANNOT wait to have classes with these people again, something i’d never thought i’d say. So many times the male prof walked into this class of mostly girls talking about weird stuff. One day he walked in on me talking about how glad i wasn’t pulling hair out in clumps now that it was shorter, with no more split ends for the time being. or the time he walked in on me loudly exclaiming that the third divergent book sucked (which it kind of did). There’s that time one of my friends tried to get EVERYONE as addicted to firelyfly as she is. yet he put up with it all and tried to join in on the awkward conversations, even if he didn’t understand what the heck we were talking about. now he’s one of my favorite profs. ever. i don’t care if he’s one the hardest grading profs. He’s one of the most personable, and that counts for a lot when most profs with their Ph.D’s or whatever lord it over our heads and have almost no social skills whatsoever. i can’t wait to take him again. 

So, how did this class almost ruin my life? 

It’s LIT THEORY. We learned about all of these fantastic theories. We’re learning to apply them books… yet we often talked about tv shows and sometimes movies to apply them better. If you want a way to ruin your life… learn about feminism. and gender roles. and how so MANY roles on television are stereotyped. even better, talk about mass culture, and how almost nothing is original anymore (although i had that much figured out awhile ago. this class just kind of confirmed my craziness). if you want a way to stop watching tons of TV, this is the way to do it. let me tell you. it makes almost everything  unwatchable because you kind of get paranoid about gender roles, and what it’s really doing to you. scary stuff. 

and lets talk about books. one of the things i love deeply. they are why i study English. why i want to become a librarian. why i sit here blogging. after literary interpretation, a watered down version of this class to prepare you for it, i noticed some changes in my reading habits. i used to blow through books and just ENJOY them. put them away. maybe remember. then over the summer i read Dracula and noticed gender roles, out of habit. i underlined like crazy, yelling at the guys both mentally and verbally. i championed Mina for not conforming. and i wondered WHAT WAS HAPPENING TO ME???? for days, i was upset because i couldn’t turn my brain off from this stuff. it had somehow been ingrained into me. i seriously thought i was going crazy. and i couldn’t turn it off, didn’t know how. and i can’t describe how badly i wanted to. 

then i take lit theory. things only get worse. by now I’ve learned that my brain probably isn’t going to have an on/off switch because i’ve been trained to pay attention to stuff, and i’m going to do it automatically. I’ve learned to ALWAYS have a pen ready when i read books, whether for class or pleasure. i’m not a complete idiot, i know to look for things when reading for class. but doing so to books for pleasure was something entirely new, and it took me awhile to adjust. Then i read John Green books. and I am suddenly grateful because by the time i start reading a third book by him, i am noticing all of these patterns. the skills i’ve learned in class kicking in automatically. i don’t even realize i’m doing it until i’ve done it. and it was kind of… nice. i probably  wouldn’t have been able to so otherwise.

it brought a new kind of enjoyment to reading. i’ve learned to slow WAYYY down. to pay more attention, to what the author is really trying to say. and it’s not so frustrating anymore now that i understand it, and knowing that ALL of  my classmates had this issue at one point or another during the semester helps. 

as for TV shows… there’s plenty of stuff to watch that doesn’t stereotype. i just probably won’t be trolling netflix for shows with strong female leads anytime soon. it is SO overdone. and i’m sick of it anyways. 

so… no. lit theory didn’t ruin my life. it almost did, but didn’t. It has given me new understanding of what i’m reading, of how to read. to appreciate books a little bit more than i already do. it gave voice to some things i already knew about television. and i’m looking forward to what is to come. 


One thought on “Lit Theory: The Class That (almost) Ruined My Life

  1. Loved your post, Charity! I loved the way you have described how lit theory took you to the edge before making you fall in love with it. It is so wonderful that your lit theory professor is so awesome that he made you fall in love with the subject. Lit theory is one of the toughest subjects (when I think about what Ferdinand de Saussure and Derrida said, it still makes my head whirl!) and I would have loved to attend lectures of your professor. What is the name of that lit theory book that you studied for the course? I would love to read that. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences.

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