Now that my time at Lawrence University has reached its final chapter, I can’t help but feel a need to cast off some of the pettiness typical of my column last term, and focus on the more universal issues faced by every student in the crossroads of their lives. I don’t intend to solve all of your existential crises. I’m not God after all. With that in mind, I thought I would start off in this direction by addressing a philosophical question: Of all the types of majors one can be at Lawrence, which one has it the easiest and therefore has no right to gripe about the workload?
In order to find the most suitable candidates for this honor, it’s important to rule out the majors that sound a lot easier than they actually are. This means that as much as one wishes that fake majors such as international studies and ethnomusicology could be the object of ridicule, there’s still a certain degree of work involved. Objectively speaking, the only legitimate candidates are art, English and theater, all three of which I’ll explore in alphabetical order, beginning with art majors.
Art majors can easily be categorized into two groups: adorable, talented people and pretentious postmodernists. Obviously, there are pretentious postmodernists who are adorable, but for the sake of oversimplifying, these are two separate entities. If every art major fell into the former category (Andy Kincaid comes to mind), then I would have no gripes about the art department. However, when I walk past Wriston on a Wednesday night and see someone working on a papier-mƒché phallus or some novelty-sized waste basket made out of cardboard, I wonder how their long-term project could possibly be more difficult or require more creativity than a term paper. I’m sure they can draw and build works of art better than I could, but that doesn’t change the fact that what art majors excel in doesn’t take all that much effort.
English majors are the ultimate go-to punch line when describing useless majors. One leaves the department a better writer, but with no discernible marketable skills. Avoid being in a class with an English major at all costs. In one of my freshman studies classes, there was a future English major, and her incessant pining to go off into the world and read under a tree in India for the rest of her life revealed the dark, boring, self-indulgent side of the humanities. Nonetheless, English majors will have written hundreds of pages of literary analysis that will never be read by anyone but their professors by the time they graduate and therefore, it would not be fair to call English the easiest major.
Calling a theater major a full-time student is like calling Miller High Life the champagne of beers. In no way does either thing resemble the other thing they claim to be, but they both go down easy. As I found out recently, one could hypothetically be a theater major and never do a single thing that requires creativity whatsoever in order to succeed. According to the Lawrence Web site, for a senior project, a theater major can elect to create “a major acting role and document [his or her] efforts”. Essentially, what this means is that one can be a lead in a play, write a little about it, and receive full credit. Acting in a lead role requires a ridiculous amount of line memorizing and dozens of rehearsal hours, but the only truly challenging part of being a theater major is having to hang out with other theater majors (second only to voice majors in unbridled vanity and loudness).
Bearing in mind that completing a theater major does not require a single scruple of creativity and comparably little effort, I would judge the winner of this competition to be the theater department. Yes, directors and set and lighting designers need do have the capacity for creativity, but those hard-working people are set off by the actors, those self-absorbed nincompoops who equate volume and randomness with comedy, acting with work and having an inflated ego for no good reason with justifiably having an inflated ego.
In case anyone’s wondering, I’m a German major.