Major Spotlight: Annie Zheng
Hometown: Hutchinson, MN
Why did you choose to major in English?
Just starting out in college, I was an undeclared student like so many of my fellow wanderers. Freshman year spring semester I decided to declare, all at once, Music and English with a cherry topping of a Creative Writing minor. I think there had always been a budding interest in English: in analyzing rhetoric and understanding the gears of an author’s work, not to mention the zeal for taking those techniques and placing my own creative spin on them in writing.
"The department’s most
attractive quality is simply
its professors’ enthusiasm."
What has been your favorite part of your experience in the department?
Gotta say, as much as I love the demolition expos of creative writing workshops or the collapsing cliffside conversations about [literary critic] Terry Eagleton, the department’s most attractive quality is simply professors’ enthusiasm to share. While class discussion is important, it is equally if not more gratifying to hear the illuminating thoughts of professors, whether they be about the well-worn works of Shakespeare or the tangential recall of a pocket story that led to another pocket story.
Are you pursuing any majors, minors, internships, or interests outside your English major?
I suppose this is where I confess I am no longer a Music major. However, I believe they are complimentary subjects: Just as English literature has symbolism, music has leitmotif; and where prose evokes pathos, music once had Aristotle’s modes. The two mediums could be considered translated from one another.
What English course would you recommend for majors? For non-majors who want to take an English class?
For majors and non-majors alike, I recommend taking EngL 3711/12 The Tower (focused on creating and promoting an annual art and literature magazine), as well as any of the Creative Writing courses, such as “Intro to Creative Writing,” “Intro to Fiction Writing,” “Intermediate Fiction Writing” (notice the trend here?). If you have even an inkling of desire for learning the rudimentaries of hands-on publishing, or an itch to break out the laptop and type up the next George R.R. (well, maybe not exactly that, but one can hope), then I wholeheartedly recommend these classes.
What is something about the English department that most people wouldn’t know?
Not all of us are coffee bourgeois. Other drinks exist, we know.
Best book you've read recently?
I recently reread Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami. It’s a novel about loss and sexuality, and it’s known as a must-read among Japanese youth. There’s just something so poignant and romantic about his work—like looking at condensation on a clear-glass window upon a cool, foggy morning—but they almost always focus on lonely and lost characters. I recommend this as a starter before diving into his other novels.