I vowed to get serious about my studies. I chose to major in English, since it sounded like something I might already know. I assumed that my classmates and I would study the classics and analyze their major themes and such, but instead we were buffeted with talk of "theory," whatever that was. The basic meanings of the poems, short stories, and essays contained in the hefty Norton anthologies that anchored our entry-level reading lists were treated by certain professors as trivial, almost beneath discussion; what mattered, we were given to understand, were our "critical assumptions."
- Walter Kirn