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!!! A Lit Major Will Save Your Life !!!!

September 14, 2013


I’m not going to beat around the bush. There’s no reason to be diplomatic about this. If you wonder what to major in, you’ve come to the right place. You’ll get no pfaff from me about critical thinking and learning “styles.” I don’t care if you learn best by collaborating with crocodiles or converting information into sock puppet skits. Your ONLY option for a major is Literature. If you can’t shake a science bug, fine. Take science on the side. Minor in it. If not, oh well. I guess somebody has to play the medic in the various apocalypse scenarios to come.  Someone’s got to repair all those English majors for all that surviving they’ll be doing.

Here’s the deal. Life is dangerous. Books and novels, poems and plays, are all about those dangers. The important ones like war and revolution, infidelity and alien invasion. Many of these hazards are not well known by the general populace–like ennui for instance.  You think running down rainy steps carrying scissors is dangerous? Ha! Try that sprint carrying some ennui, buster. After your spill,  when those same jokers who couldn’t fix Humpty show up, then you’ll see! You’ll all see then what you should have majored in!

At this point, some of you non-lit majors may be confused by my tone. Allow me to enumerate. Here are SIX reasons why Literature or English is the best subject to major in while at college. In all cases, it just might save your life:

1. Serial Killers

The FBI is clear on this point: if you’re ever taken hostage by some deranged, homicidal lunatic at gunpoint, your best strategy is to make that person see you as a human being. FBI researchers advise that you tell the maniac stories about yourself. Make yourself human through personal narrative. Hear that! Storytelling! Narrative! How might you do any of this, you ask? And you better ask quick, because the madman’s gunhand looks mighty shaky to me… Go ask your college literature professor. Do it quick! Before he pulls the trig….

2. Climactic Emergency

You can seriously kick the bucket when inclement weather crashes the power and makes resources so limited that surviving humans band together, reworking high school gym equipment into menacing apoca-wear that would please Michael Kors, and then come after all the stragglers for bodypart trophies and stray sticks of gum. This too Lit Majors will survive. They may not be strong. They may not like the light, but now that’s a good thing. They can read by candle light. Plus, all that hoarded reading material can be used as fuel–books, unfinished novels, rejection letters–all will burn the brighter as Lit Majors repair to their vaulted libraries (the first place they’d loot) to brush up on the classics while civilization teeters.

3. Zombie Apocalypse

Okay. The image above is a diagram. It spells out the Lit Major’s advantage. Sure, the zombies will come after the nerds who have more brains, but only unenlightened twits find this funny. Only fuddlefwips think the joke ends there. Here’s a PSA: It is ALWAYS better to have the bigger brain, gorged to turgid synaptic limits with Cervantes and Shakespeare, Lacan and Zizek. The picture tells you only part of the story. The book trap is a handy device, but that’s only the ground floor of the Lit Major’s defense system against zombies. Everything on the upper floors comes down to foreknowledge. To be forewarned is to be one of the fortunate in a zombie apocalypse. Lit Majors would know all the angles: the zombie plague could be susceptible to the common cold (H.G. Wells); or it could be a reflection of Southern gothicism and America’s turbulent race history (Night of the Living Dead); or it could foreground a Marxist critique of crass consumerism (Dawn of the Dead); or it could be the means for a reclamation of an embattled yet “undead” system of patriarchy (Walking Dead, The Crazies, The Mist). Whatever the case, the Lit Major will know to avoid volatile forms of ephemeral community (long list of films and novels). And, most especially, to stay away from Bill Murray’s house (Zombieland).

4. Cancer/ West Nile/ The Plague

This is mainly for those of the male persuasion, who find it difficult to see a doctor when and if strange signs of infection manifest upon the body. This problem is less of an issue for Lit Majors, whose incredibly flexible notions about gender and its cultural construction allow them to throw disabling gender norms to the winds. Not only that, but their ability to over-interpret every mole and mole hill into a mountain will act as an early detection system, enabling them to stave off an immanent and untimely death. Which would you prefer to be, young man? A living, unkillable SissyPants, or Mr. Tough and Dead? I’m getting myself daintily fitted for Apocalypse trousers even as I write this.

5. STD Plague

A variation on the former Final Scene, this one imagines a world that comes to a crashing halt due to a sexually transmitted disease. There’s not much to envision for this one, other than the average Lit Major on a Saturday night compared to the ever-fragile Non-Lit Major. The latter goes to clubs and discotechs, house parties and bars. Places that are typically new and unfamiliar, with overloaded patios and porches just waiting to crumble, not to mention oodles and oodles of unlighted steps to trip the inebriated on their wavering way to the lavatory. Beyond these hazards lie the microscopic death crew awaiting the so-called “lucky.” Foo on that, I say. Give me the unwilling vows of celibacy, chastity, poverty, and sarcasm of the Lit Major. I’d rather curl up with a good book than a good case of the Itchy, Scratchy, Deathlies anyways.

6. Alien Invasion

You’ll thank your lucky stars when from your unlucky ones fishheaded jerks arrive on this planet eager to corral humans into various pens separated by flavor and GMO content. Your major has not only prepared you to hide for indefinite periods of time, it has equipped you with a facility for dealing with diversity. Because of your strengths with communication, you may be the first to determine that the title of the alien’s book, which lays out their plans for the human race, is really called To Serve Man (in the Guy Fieri not the Gandhi sense of the term), as dramatized in your favorite episode of the Twilight Zone, in which the entire resolution of the plot hinges on a double entendre. Or, you may be the only one to appreciate the shift of power, the utter irony of the colonial intentions of these interstellar A-holes. And we all know what invulnerability an appreciation for irony can impart. Don’t you? Well then maybe you should have majored in literature. And then maybe you’ll survive.

  1. I’m now seriously peed I majored in Science, going back to college!!! Brilliant piece! Thanks!

  2. There’s still hope for you, of course. I forgot to mention that many folks become post-grad converts through excessive reading, writing, and interpreting, thereby inoculating themselves against these and other forms of apocalypse.

  3. This should be required reading for every high school guidance counselor in the country.

  4. Hi there Michael,

    I just subscribed to your blog a few days ago. I received this post in its FULL blog form via email.

    I am having a problem sending out my blog to my email “friends”. It shows a few lines, and then it gives a link to go to my websiste. I would like it to show up like your blog did….all inclusive within the email.

    Would you happen to know where the setting is to do this? I am pulling out what is left of my hair.

    thanks SueAnn


  5. This is hilarious! Does a Master’s in Professional Writing count? If not, I’m doomed. 🙂

    • I’d say it most certainly does. Have you acquired enough “light” reading to construct a book-trap for an uncoordinated zombie? If so, then yes. Definitely yes.

  6. This may be my favorite blog post in the history of blog posts. “The Lit Major will know to avoid volatile forms of ephemeral community” and the “To Serve Man” bit made me SOL (snicker out loud). But seriously, folks, I was a lit major and found that it informed storytelling of all kinds, especially in the board room. My writing mentor says that human beings learn to survive – socially, zombie-apocalyptically, and otherwise – primarily through Story, and this habit is the single thing that separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom.

  7. Reblogged this on MBA to MFA: Changing Tribes and commented:
    Must. Follow. This. Blog.

  8. Reblogged this on heatherzhutchinswrites and commented:
    Can’t argue with a guy who vaunts an English major as the way to go. Read carefully, Folks, you may be saving yourself and humanity from the Zombie Apocalypse!


  9. Hahaha I’m going to try to find some Lit-Majors to befriend ASAP!

  10. Haha! Agree! This maybe humorous but I’m taking this seriously. Every single information you can learn and gather from reading (a lot) will definitely save your behind into surviving the current round of any plague or apocalypse. Any literary nerd would definitely know how to analyze a serial killer, make a counterattack, and not be surprised that he/she is the killer itself.

  11. Celebacy and lit majors…surely we went to different colleges, because the biggest party-ers from my university were always the communication and lit majors! LOL!

  12. wordsbyannierose permalink

    Yay! I’m finishing my lit major this semester, now I know it was definitely worth it. 🙂 PS. Thanks for stopping by my blog!

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