Kimberly Martinez-Melchor

Humberto Garcia

English 190

May 1, 2018

From the Sciences to the Arts:

Timeless English Literature

 

Coming into my freshman year here at UC Merced I had a plan already set in stone; I was going to study human biology and obtain some sort of medical internship during my time here which would help carve my path towards a successful journey into medical school. Originally my career goal was to become an OBGYN to help expectant mothers through a safe and healthy pregnancy. However, after miserably failing the general ed. classes¾including biology, I realized that I was simply interested in medicine because of the salary and not because I felt a genuine passion for the study of medicine. I wandered around different fields trying to scope out what other majors had to offer course and career wise. Afterwards, I was introduced to journalism and was instantly drawn to it because I had always enjoyed writing throughout my life, as well as having advanced skills in writing. Unfortunately, UC Merced does not offer any type of journalism program so I decided to stick with English as my major along with professional writing as my minor. Initially, I thought majoring in English was going to be a breeze because reading and writing had always been my strongest area throughout grade school. In addition, I believed that my “advancing” writing skills was going to help me easily pass my classes…and here I am a soon to be graduate English major admitting that I was very wrong.

The first English class that I started with was Katie Brokaw’s Literature of Childhood, in which we studied many works of children and adult literature that utilized the idea of childhood

to reveal larger themes of race, gender, etc. At the time, I found it quite difficult to be able to draw these complex themes from such a simple children’s book. I was baffled after hearing other classmates’ close reading and responses which discouraged me of my own interpretation and analysis because I thought it wasn’t “good” or “smart” enough. Afterwards, I never really felt confident enough to participate so I tended to be the person who just listened to everyone else’s inputs. However, after reaching my upper-division courses I knew I had to break out of that fear because my success in the class heavily relied on my participation by further engaging with the literature as well as the discussion in class. One of the classes that really helped break me out of this fear was Dr. Hakala’s Engaging Texts class in which she introduced the many literary theories and criticism that would help me further read and analyze texts in various lenses. Although this was by far one of the most challenging courses I took as an English major, I genuinely felt that paring novels/poems alongside certain critical theories really helped me understand how each theory could be used to read and analyze any work of literature. By the end of the course, my interpretation and analysis grew stronger as I began to gain knowledge behind historical time periods in which a piece of literature was written in. I also developed a keen eye to detail that aided me to read any piece of literature and be able to extract certain themes that helped to reveal universal issues.

As my confidence in my close reading skills became stronger, my writing skills also began to thrive. One of the major difficulties I had towards the beginning of my study in English was being able to craft original arguments for my papers. Although my analysis seemed to get stronger, when it came time to argue that analysis into an original argument I struggled immensely; I always failed to answer the “so what” part of any thesis. What helped me overcome this weakness was not only peer feedback sessions that most of my English professors would

offer prior to a due date of a paper, but also going into office hours to further discuss what exactly I was trying to argue in my paper. However, I also pushed myself to do this on my own by asking myself why my position was worth arguing and why it was important amongst literary scholars and theorists as a whole. One particular course that really helped me develop this particular skill was Humberto Garcia’s Senior Thesis class. Due to the fact that the major assignment in this course was our senior capstone paper (which is currently still in progress), because it is a lengthy paper we really had to carefully develop our position in a precise manner that not only showcased our close reading and analytical skills, but also crafted an original argument engaging us in the conversation amongst other scholars that have written on our specific research subject. Throughout the semester, I was able to collect research articles relevant to my subject of interest (William Blake & The Invisible Woman) and respond to these theorists while adding my own insight or viewpoint.

Overall, developing these skills was NOT an easy process; it took long nights of reading, writing, and mental break downs after feeling like my interpretations were not good enough. However, I came to learn that it is all a learning process and although my knowledge and understanding has widely expanded after the course of four years, I am still and will always continue learning and developing these skills.  I now know that English literature is by far an amazing yet challenging field of study¾one that is timeless through its universal themes. I have completed my bachelors in English Literature with full acknowledgement that I chose the right major for me.

p.s, I no longer have the desire to pursue a career in Journalism. English literature, particularly William Blake fully capitated my academic interests and I now plan to attend graduate school in the near future, with an emphasis in Blake Studies.

 

If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite. (Blake, 75).

Works Cited

 

 

Lynn Johnson, Mary & Grant E., John. Blake’s Poetry and Designs. W.W. Norton, 2008.