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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Meet the Majors, join a community of writers

Published: March 16, 2012
Section: Opinions

As a creative writing major, I am not often in the company of my peers outside of class. We creative types are small in number and often overlooked compared to the swelling numbers of psych or science majors. When a Meet the Majors event was offered for creative writing students, I figured I would take this opportunity to be around like-minded people.
It is this need that Meet the Major programs fill here at Brandeis. Not only is it a chance to interact with people with whom you have a lot in common, but it is also a way to mingle with faculty and alumni. Any questions about the major and its requirements can be answered. Another large upside of this event is its inclusion of free Panera pastries.
The event was very tailored to the interests of creative writing students. After introduction and the consumption of a large amount of pastries, people were asked to stand up and read a selection of their work. This is normal for a creative writing major. Students are often asked to read their work out loud in class. Yet, this was a more performance-based, spoken-word setting. I found this an interesting challenge. I read the same short story out loud at both the Meet the Majors event and in class; yet it was while standing at the podium during Meet the Majors that my story truly came alive. I found myself changing the tone of my voice for the different characters, emphasizing certain lines and completely investing myself in my story in a new-found way. In this way the event was not just a communal sharing of work and ideas, but also an actual spoken-word event.
Meet the Majors also inspired me by illustrating the pure talent we have here at Brandeis. Olga Broumas, director of creative writing on campus and also our poet in residence, gave a truly spectacular poetry reading that honestly made me reconsider my monogamy toward fiction. While I have yet to have the pleasure of being in her class, I enjoyed the way the two poems she read tied into one another. William Flesch, a renowned English professor, also read his work. While not a self-described writer, he is a translator, and his insights into Dante’s “Inferno” went far beyond my previous knowledge of the text from good old high-school AP European History. Student readings were no less important, even members of my own creative writing class whose work I read on a weekly basis brought new pieces that impressed me.
Meet the Major events are not always well-attended. Many students seem to take the viewpoint that they can look up the requirements for their major online, or talk to their adviser. There seems to be no point in gathering on a weeknight to talk about information already so accessible. I argue, however, that these events are essential not because of the information they provide, but because of the community they foster. Now that I know the creative writing majors, the UDRs and the faculty a little better, I would feel more comfortable contacting them if I ever had a problem with a piece or encountered writer’s block. Having already done something so personal as share my own writing with them, I feel bonded in the way only a community of writers can.
I am not a science major. I cannot gripe to my friends and classmates about the stresses of taking organic chemistry. In describing my creative writing class to others, they seem taken aback by the fact that it involves a mere 14 people in a class, it requires permission to get into and it’s an environment where many of the fiction stories shared are actually so personal it turns out they are true. Meet the Majors allowed me to be among people who recognize this as the norm, who understand the writing-obsessed side of me that I feel uncomfortable sharing with others. It allows me to have that feeling of companionship, that sensation that people in more popular majors get everyday, that I usually only obtain in class once a week. The fact that it requires one to take two workshop classes before declaring a creative writing major is not the point, it is that people like me exist at Brandeis and are as excited to share their work as I am.