the seven symptoms of an english major


In honor of my starting to read Ulysses by James Joyce today and my taking up the Wandering Rocks challenge [] , I’ve decided to share with you the Seven Symptoms of an English Major, as written by my good friend Danielle Whaley for Florida Southern College’s chapter of Sigma Tau Delta back when we were undergrads.  If you borrow this list, please give her the credit. 

It was orginally printed on a tee-shirt, which I have since reworked into a lovely library bag. 🙂    English Majors Unite!

english profs

cheers to our profs. thanks!

Seven Symptoms of an English Major

7. While watching a film, you notice symbolism, and your friends make fun of you.

6. You come to enjoy being sickly in the hopes that you’ll catch consumption and become a poetic genius like Keats.

5. You can spot grammar errors in advertisements at the movies and make fun of people you do not know.

4. You become so brilliant at essay tests that multiple-choice tests seem somehow demeaning.

3. You wrote stories or read other books in middle school while your teacher explained useless things… like Math.

2. When you hear someone describe their majors as “hellish,” you can ask them what circle.  (And, after a while, you can begin to place people in THEIR appropriate circles…)

1. You can say things like, “this panegyric poem is written in trochaic hexameter octaves, with irregular truncated iambic lines,” and actually know what that means.


Do you know an eighth symptom of an English Major?  Leave me a comment.



3 responses »

  1. Your #2 makes me recall a painful memory. I once overindulged at a friend’s wedding reception and launched into a lengthy description of how my own wedding reception would go. Using Dante’s hell model, there would be nine levels decorated according to the relevant sin and I would seat friends and family on whatever level of sin I judge them to be most guilty.

    Then it got a little awkward when friends started asking on which level they would be seated. Wedding receptions are not the place to describe your friends’ perceived moral shortcomings to their faces, I learned. Now I lack the friends to even have all nine levels occupied.

    Thanks for checking our Ulysses reading project and for catching my goof!

    • Ouch! Yeah, I could see how awkwardness would ensue. You’re very welcome. I made it to page 15 tonight! I kept flashing back to “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” by Dave Eggers

  2. Joyce is definitely the Dave Eggers of the 1920s.

    I’m sure that sentence will throw a few folks into fits.

    I’ll get up to page 14 today, and then maybe pick up the pace. The early chapters are pretty readable. It’s when we get to “Oxen in the Sun” and “Wandering Rocks” (the more experimental chapters), we’ll face some challenges.

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