We Are English Majors: Olivia Luchini
We talked to current 4th year student Olivia Luchini about her time at UC Davis as an English Major as well as her budding career in comedy.
In your time with the English Department, what has been the most memorable course you have taken? Why?
My favorite course, and probably the one that inspired me the most, was Children's Literature with Frances Dolan. I think we often forget to look back to our childhood, and what we were consuming, but it can give us a lot of insight as to why we are the way that we are. For me, I noticed a lot of issues with beauty standards in popular texts, and those led me to start researching body image issues in children's media, which is a big passion of mine. This past summer, I did hours upon hours of research on specific franchises that either inspire self-consciousness in children or uplift them. I have actually done 22 articles on children's media and beauty stereotypes on my personal website. Oh, and I learned that I am obnoxious because my favorite book was "Olivia" by Ian Falconer.
What made you decide to pursue emphases in both Creative Writing and Literary Theory and Criticism, alongside your minor in UWP?
I have been writing stories, albeit some of them VERY poor, since I was five years old. Writing has just always been the activity that makes me the happiest, but because of that I want to know why books affect people the way that they do and what they still have to say. Through theory and criticism, I get to ask questions and see what has not yet been said. I think that they go hand-in-hand, so doing both just made sense. For the minor in UWP, I do a lot of journalistic writing and editing for The California Aggie and previously Her Campus, so it made sense for me to get better at it through those courses. Additionally, I believe that the UWP classes are highly valuable toward anyone on this campus because writing skills are few and far between in our current generation, and those courses really spruce up your abilities to write not only clearly but also effectively.
Please describe your experiences working at the California Aggie and how your background in English has helped with your position as Editor.
I think English majors know how they like stories told and that they have a hawk eye for error because they have consumed so much amazing writing that a little inconsistency or accident really sticks out to them. Additionally, I just like learning from others. When you work at The Aggie, you get to learn from every section imaginable, and you hear real, authentic stories about the people you might have in your classes. I actually began as a humorist for The Aggie, which is where you make fake, comedic news (like The Onion) regarding the UC Davis campus, but I have since become Features editor. I have really gotten to see a huge variety in storytelling, and I love it.
How does being an English major help in your comedy/theatre pursuits?
Knowing how to write well is essential for comedy, as it relies solely on pacing and thinking creatively. Observing comedic texts, aspects of our language's culture, and just how comedic timing plays out for other writers allows you to learn from experiencing. I really, really want to be a comedic writer, so it made sense to first be a good writer, which you cannot do without practice. Theatre is sort of similar. It is important to know what words are the most packed, what gestures are the most important, and so forth. Having a keen eye for detail, plot, and characterization is very helpful, but I will be the first one to say that I am definitely not a theatrical genius and that I am still learning every day as a "late bloomer" into that art form.