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Mother Nature was an English Major

By Mireya Sánchez-Maes, Contributing Opinion Writer
Mireya Sánchez-Maes ’24 is a joint concentrator in English and Theater, Dance, and Media in Currier House. Her column “Insect Insights” appears on alternate Wednesdays.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single student in possession of a Harvard degree, must be in want of a high-paying job. However little known the feelings or views of such a student may be upon their first entering the College, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the populace that innocent first-years flock to the altars of CS and Econ with little regard for the trivial frivolities of History and Literature. I mean, sure, they’ll take a distributional Philosophy class, and heck, maybe even minor in Music if the credits line up! But major? “Pffft. I’d like to be employed, thank you very much.”

Yikes. Talk about pride and prejudice, am I right? Well listen up undergrads, ’cause I’m about to blow your minds. Those mythical jobs in the arts? They’re real, and your friends in the humanities are trying to get them. But contrary to popular belief, the greatest thing standing in their way isn’t job scarcity or talent saturation. No, the truth is far ghastlier than that, for those brave enough to major in the humanities must also face… sarcastic comments!

I know. The stakes have never been so high.

But seriously. Why are y’all hating on the humanities so much? Between all the musical bullying and “yo… how are you gonna live, tho?” majoring in the humanities feels a lot like joining a Harvard improv troupe — no one wants to do it. Which is a bummer (for them, of course) because there’s nothing cooler than saying “yes, and…” to music and art. Also, as Harvard’s sole entomological opinion columnist, I’m obligated to mention that some of nature’s coolest insects majored in the humanities. (Yup - this is a

scientifically accurate phenomenon that definitely happens.) So in honor of these cool critters, I’m going to highlight mother nature’s savviest insects – the humanities majors.

First up are Pottery Wasps. These visual artists spend hours fashioning custom pottery with their very own mandibles. And by laying their eggs inside the masonry, they prove that it’s not impossible to use your art to put a roof over your family's head! But despite spending long hours crafting nature’s most intricate ceramic masterpieces, NO ONE cares. These wasps literally have to paralyze larvae and drag them into the pots – just to show off their art! They shouldn’t have to do that! People should just come to their art showings! Why are art shows so empty guys? Please come. Please?

Next up are cicadas – the unsung heroes of the insect world! (Ha ha). They spend their time harmonizing and singing show tunes, but they really don’t get enough credit for how cool their vibe is. In fact, cicadas have a lot of haters. Birds, reptiles, fish, spiders, wasps, and pets all consider them easy targets just because they chose to funnel their evolutionary talents into something other than athletic prowess. But you know what? Singing is cool, too! Let’s get those singers some varsity sweaters, shall we?

The Caddisfly larvae use silk they’ve strung to their back to form a protective case around their body. That’s right, these sexy beasts knit their own clothes. They have a lot of imitators, too. As one of the most common aquatic prey, Caddisfly larvae are mass produced in stores and used by fishermen to try and trick fish. In other words: Caddisflies are trendsetters that everyone wants to copy but no one can. Harvard College knitting club, anyone?

“Anobium punctatums” (A.K.A. bookworms) have devoured everything from Moby Dick to Twilight: Breaking Dawn, the Extended Edition. Oh, you didn’t know there was an extended version? Well there is and these guys have eaten it all up. They live in Lamont and know everything about everything. They’re English majors. Very cool.

Last, but not least, we have the Death Feigning Beetle. These thespians can perform (or play dead) at the drop of the hat. They spend their whole lives perfecting their craft and reading Judith Butler's performance theory only to be barraged by incredulous STEM majors. “Can you even use acting in real life?” “Yes,” replies the Death Feigning Beetle. “For example, just right now I am pretending to be interested in this conversation.”

So yeah. The humanities are great. And real talk? The immense privilege that accompanies ANY Harvard degree is insane. Is this fair? No. Does it make sense? Not really. But will it help you out if you choose to pursue a creative profession? You betcha. So if you’re living with this privilege and STILL hating on the humanities, perhaps the real thing stopping you is the fear of deviating from predefined paths.

So the next time someone tells you they’re majoring in the humanities, don’t laugh and offer to pay for their unemployment. I mean, if you REALLY wanna donate money, I guess that’s fine. I could use some new socks. But other than that, a simple, “Woah, cool! Please invite me to your film screening,” will suffice.

Mireya Sánchez-Maes ’24 is a joint concentrator in English and Theater, Dance, and Media in Currier House. Her column “Insect Insights” appears on alternate Wednesdays.

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