English majors reign supreme

By Molly Green

‘ ‘ ‘ There are many species of students who traverse the great campus of the University of… ‘ ‘ ‘ There are many species of students who traverse the great campus of the University of Pittsburgh. Nature dictates that these species, which are classified by major, will fight among one another to become the alpha species. Of these, no battle is greater than that between the science major and the English major.’ ‘ ‘ ‘ Like cats and dogs, science and English majors have just never quite gotten along. Biologically the two are quite different, you see. The science major is a peculiar creature that generally travels within packs, or more accurately, swarms. These swarms generally congregate in ‘hives,’ or libraries specific to their own kind where they will agree with one another that science is the most challenging of all subjects. ‘ ‘ ‘ Much like bees, the science major also has a very distinct method of communication, which involves words like ‘allotropes’ and ‘geometrical isomer.’ These words are used colloquially, as if they actually have a rightful place in everyday English language. ‘ ‘ ‘ English majors, though they can be quite social at times, often prefer to work in solitude. This is not to say that they are not adaptable, however, as they can thrive in nearly any environment. This, however, has led to many conflicts with the science major, as the English has a long history of encroaching on others’ space ‘mdash; and science majors are notoriously territorial (see: the secret biology computer lab complete with color printers). ‘ ‘ ‘ The English major is an extremely moody and sensitive animal. An hour of brooding time is typically institutionalized into its daily routine. Most English majors feel the need to justify that the work they are doing is just as important and difficult as the work being done by other majors, especially their archrival science majors. This is done by throwing out equally large jargon, except by using words like ‘obscurantism’ and ‘hermeneutics.’ This assertion of dominance is sometimes coupled with remarks like, ‘Well, when I get my Emmy for screenwriting, who’ll be laughing then?’ ‘ ‘ ‘ Whether these differences are a result of nature or nurture is the subject of much ongoing research, as both science and English majors are inherently submerged in separate, conflicting environments. ‘ ‘ ‘ Observe the habitat of the science major, if you dare venture to such dark places: a complex of large industrial looking buildings with such brutal architectural flourishes impersonal and foreboding enough for even the most hardcore of science majors. Such buildings are usually named after old rich men or STDs. ‘ ‘ ‘ Pitt science majors can be seen creeping in and out of many such nests, which are plopped across Tennyson Avenue in a carefully structured line ‘mdash; science majors are ruled by such geometric patterns, which stimulates the left half of the brain and effectively overpowers any and all creative urges. ‘ ‘ ‘ But beneath that dark, icy exterior, is it possible that there lies a warm, misunderstood interior? I bravely ventured inside to find out only to discover an equally drab display of nuclear power plant-esque classrooms. I had hoped to find the color printer, though I’d only heard whispers of such a place. I’d been overcome with visions of photocopying my ‘Invisible Man’ notes (symbolically) not only in black and white, but in red as well. Alas, wherever this oasis among the overwhelming science desert was located, it was carefully shrouded away from prying English-major eyes. As my sister ‘mdash; a science major to the end ‘mdash; told me, ‘It’s not for you. You’ll never find it.’ ‘ ‘ ‘ The habitat of the English major is quite to the contrary. Take Pitt English majors, who, for the most part, attend classes in the Cathedral of Learning. Even the very name suggests something magical: Young Toni Morrisons and Franz Kafkas voraciously reading and writing novels, classical theory and essays, while their contemporaries pick at frog entrails in Clapp Hall.’ ‘ ‘ ‘ DNA sequencing indicates that the science major shares common ancestry with the engineering majors. This would explain many things, including the majors’ shared love for mass quantities of paper, as indicated by their oversized textbooks and endless worksheets and index cards ‘mdash; oh how the science majors love their index cards. To make an analogy, if science majors are a ferocious pack of wolves, then engineers are the sometimes-ferocious-sometimes-lovable Siberian huskies ‘mdash; one step above the science major, but not by much. ‘ ‘ ‘ Likewise, the history major is a close ally to the English major, and the two likely share a common ancestor. ‘ ‘ ‘ There is, of course, the occasional science-English double major. Such creatures are never to be trusted, though rest assured, they will get their just rewards (see: the Divine Comedy, canto 3). Are you a science major who would like to challenge the prowess of an English major? E-mail Molly at [email protected].