Anya Morgan ’14, in addition to being a French and English double major, is both a yogi and a zombie aficionado, so don’t be surprised if her WesBAM! class doesn’t end at the corpse pose. The Argus caught up with Morgan outside Usdan to talk about her thesis, her interest in queer law, and her contingency plan for a zombie invasion.
The Argus: What are you involved with on campus?
Anya Morgan: I’m a yoga instructor, and I’m also a writing tutor: this semester I’m TAing for Anne Greene’s nonfiction class instead of doing the normal writing tutor thing.
A: How long have you been teaching yoga?
AM: I’ve been teaching since the summer after sophomore year, so this is my second year teaching yoga classes. I teach two classes: one is called Hangover Yoga—that’s on Sundays—and the other one is Power Vinyasa Flow. They’re both pretty upbeat. I hope that my classes give students a good workout, but I’m also there for the more emotional, mental side of it. I want [students] to relax and let things go from their day. Because yoga’s definitely not only about the physical practice; sometimes, in the beginning of the class, I say, “Think about something in your mind that you’d like to let go of for the course of the class.” That’s a big theme of it, actually.
A: And you get to practice yoga while you’re teaching, to some extent?
AM: Yeah, I demonstrate every pose. But it’s nice to also take some of the other teachers’ classes, because it’s better to be told what to do, sometimes, than to have to instruct.
A: You were a New Student Orientation intern this past summer, right?
AM: Yeah. I loved that. I tried to recruit them to come to my yoga class, but I don’t know if that worked. It was weird, looking at it from the other side…I was definitely jealous of the freshmen who were coming in. It was great, though.
A: And was that you behind the Orientation Interns Twitter account?
AM: Yes! Before it got shut down. It was so sad. There was something about University Relations having to check everything before it goes out, and we had a rogue Twitter. We tweeted a lot about making paper clip chains and stuff.
A: How’s senior year going so far?
AM: It’s going really great! It’s really hectic. I just took the LSAT. It went fine. It was pretty much as I expected, but it was super long, and I’d been studying for it all summer, so I’m really glad that’s over. And now thesis stuff is coming on the horizon, so…
A: That was going to be my next question. Your thesis sounds really awesome; do you want to tell me a bit more about it?
AM: Yeah! So it started off as a comparison between zombies in Haitian literature and zombies in American horror films, and it still is that, but now it’s weighted more towards the film side. Or at least that’s what I’m working on right now. So recently I’ve been watching a bunch of classic zombie movies and picking out tropes. The thing I’m doing right now is a shot-by-shot analysis of lines and shadows and light and stuff. I’m looking at iconic scenes from zombie movies, and analyzing what the zombies are meant to represent and what implications the figure of the zombie has in those movies.
A: So there’s a heavy film element in it as well as literature.
AM: Yeah, which is interesting, because I’ve never studied film, but I feel like English kind of lends itself to that. You learn the analysis part, and you just have to apply it to film. I think the average length is 80 pages…so I’m trying to think of it as a bunch of small papers, or a few 20-page papers, so as not to get too freaked out by it.
A: Fast or slow zombies?
AM: I love the fast zombies, but there’s a limit. I haven’t seen World War Z, but I heard that they just, like, pour out of things and that they look so CGI that it’s crazy. So [I’m] not into those. But definitely fast. I like [“I Am Legend”]…the one with Will Smith; it’s a remake of “Omega Man.” Anyway, those [zombies] are super, super fast, and they’re scary as shit.
I’m also watching “Night of the Living Dead,” and all the Romero movies that are really, really slow, and they have their own kind of terror. But I feel like the modern zombies are quicker, and that’s scarier.
A: Have you always been into zombie movies?
AM: Yeah, that’s kind of where this thesis came about; it was just me being obsessed with zombie movies. My dad and I like to talk about the tropes in different movies. Like, there’s always a scene where they raid a shopping mall and have a shopping spree, and that’s in almost every movie. And then there’s a scene where they have to kill a loved one who’s been infected. These scenes that repeat are really interesting. And then just the different iterations of zombie movies are really interesting: like, why is the zombie movie so reproducible? There are so many sequels. I don’t know how I’m going to work that into my thesis, but it’s something I’m thinking about.
A: In the event of a zombie outbreak at Wesleyan, do you have a contingency plan?
AM: Oh, gosh. I don’t know. I guess the Butts would be the best place to go because they’re riot-proof and they’re basically a prison, and you could find a place in the tunnels or something—oh my gosh, definitely the tunnels! Yeah, now that I’m thinking about it. Like, Walking Dead-style, where they clear out the prison. We could hole up in the Butts, get some weapons, manufacture some.
A: There are probably some weapons hidden in the tunnels somewhere.
AM: Yeah. And I’ve got a can of hairspray and a lighter, so I’ve got a flamethrower there. But, to be honest, I haven’t thought about it that much.
A: You never know.
AM: This is true.
A: What have been some of your favorite classes here?
AM: I really love [Professor] Stephanie Weiner. I took English 201 with her, and I also took Literatures of London, which was an FYI, with her. She’s really great. I really like teachers who can respond to even a comment they don’t necessarily agree with, in a positive sense, and can foster discussion in that way. I’ve definitely had some teachers who don’t do that, so the contrast is really remarkable.
And then this semester I’m taking a class with [Professor] Jill Morawski and [Assistant Professor] Lisa Cohen that’s cross listed English and Psych, called Literatures of Lying. It’s really amazing. I’d never taken any sort of psych class before, so it’s super interesting and also challenging to read about that sort of stuff. The professors switch off classes, so one class will be more psych-focused, and the next will be on literature. We’re reading “The Turn of the Screw” right now.
A: And beyond Wesleyan, law school’s the plan right now?
AM: That’s the goal, yeah. We’ll see. I get my LSAT scores back in, like, two weeks, so hopefully they’re good enough that I’m going somewhere. But yeah, I’ve also been considering applying to stay on as a Ford Fellow, being in charge of the writing tutors.
A: Any specific area of law that you’re interested in?
AM: I want to do queer law, gender and sexuality law. I’ve heard that when you’re getting your JD, there’s not much room for specialization, but I might want to teach law, so I might want to get some other sort of degree after that if I want to stay in school forever. [Laughs.] So there’s a thing called an LL.M that you can get after your JD, where you can specialize more. UCLA just came out with a new one; I think it’s called Sexuality and the Law, or something. So I think that’s one or two more years to tack onto the end, and that’s what I’m interested in right now. But it could change.
A: Is that an area of study you got interested in while here?
AM: Yeah, definitely. And looking back, I kind of wish I had been an FGSS major, because it’s really interesting to me. My sister [a sophomore at Wesleyan] said she might be an FGSS major, and that made me really happy, because I just find that totally fascinating. And since coming to Wes, I’ve also come out as queer, so that’s been transformative for me and what I’m interested in.
A: So, looking backward for a second, where are you from?
AM: I’m from LA, and I love the West Coast, but I love the East Coast, too. Except I’m not a huge fan of New York City, just because it scares me. I went to New York a couple of times, and I just couldn’t handle it because it was too concentrated. It was the same thing when I went abroad to Paris. It took a lot of getting used to, with public transportation and stuff. But yeah, I want to move back to the West Coast, hopefully, for law school, because I miss the weather and my family’s over there.
A: You mentioned studying in Paris. How was that?
AM: It was amazing. I wish I could go back. I feel bad, because when I came back from it, I complained about it so much to my sister that I’m afraid I discouraged her. But it was just because, you know, the grass is always greener: when you’re there, you’re homesick. But now, looking back, I really miss it, and it was a great time. Also, if you’re a French major and you go abroad, you basically complete the major, because you get four of the courses done.
A: What will you miss most about Wesleyan?
AM: Definitely my friends. I’ve thought about it, and I know it’s them because I’ve considered spending another year here and doing a fellowship or something, and I might still do that, depending on how law school pans out, but I know it would be far less enjoyable. It’s not just the physical space I’m going to miss; it’s definitely the people, and it would be so different if everyone I knew wasn’t here.