CONFESSIONALS: I’m a third-year English major with no clue what a thesis is

My name’s Paige, I’m 21, and I never learned how to these (thesisis? Theeesis?)

Marissa Ouyang

By: Paige Riding, News Writer 

I have something to confess that I’m really upset about, SFU. I’m finishing up my third year under your roof and, in all honesty, I don’t really know how I got here in the first place. More specifically, I don’t know why I’m confused by my patronage to you. It’s not the melancholy brutalist design sending me into a spiral of disdain for English, the subject that I used to love; it’s not the soft weeping I hear all around me in the Bookstore from students purchasing $7 pens.

It’s you. You’ve confused and failed me.

How, you may ask? I don’t really know how to tell you. No, you don’t understand. I literally can’t. It’s impossible for me to explain my thoughts in a coherent manner to you. All I can really do is tip-toe around the ideas in hopes that my poor, vague examples spark understanding in you — and maybe even in myself.

After $13,000 of this English major, I’ve learned too many Shakespearean scenes to count. Macbeth’s complex ambitions swirl around my head, killing more original ideas in me than there were deaths from poison in Hamlet. I know accentual verse, syllabic verse, something about iambic pentameter, I think, maybe how to intricate quotes. I know colons from semicolons and I convulse when the incorrect “your” or “you’re” arrives in my Messenger inbox.

The real problem arises when I try to tie these all together to make an actual point.

Essays demand so many different aspects to keep the reader’s attention. I know all about varying paragraph and sentence lengths. There was a professor that explained to me how a paper is like a song: fluid in motion, driven by a point that should resonate with a speaker. How inspiring. “I want to do that one day!” I exclaimed to myself, heading into my upper division classes with a blank notebook and blank stare at the notes about essay structure on the board.

I know all the stops when it comes to the Modern Language Association’s formatting. I know that after writing my last name and page number in the top right corner, with all the necessary information on the first page, I’ve gotten half the paper done at that point. And shit if I don’t deserve a four-hour break after all that effort! 

You’re a fool if you don’t know that the period comes after the closed bracket when you provide the author and page numbers. You’re even worse if you use a second-person voice in your paper.

Again, I’m sure you’re asking me to get to the point already, aren’t you? This hurts me to confess as much as it pains you to scroll through this mountain of disgruntled garbage. Well, if I were to use alliteration, maybe I should call it a misplaced mess, a contradictory conundrum, a baffling beratement of bullshit. I digress — but what’s new?

I feel betrayed. Maybe it’s the professors expecting too much of me. Bold of them to assume I headed into their class with the faintest idea of what was expected of me. All these paragraphs later and you don’t even know what I’m talking about. If it’s any condolence, I don’t really know what my argument was in the first place, either.

You know, now that I think about it, I believe the English buffs called it a thesis? Not sure. Give me a few more years and maybe I’ll figure out what it is.

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