Nerdy in the USA, Then and Now

by Remesha Whittington and Griselda Martinez
Faculty advisor: Dr. Matt Packer

A nerd is defined as an unstylish, unattractive, or socially inept person, especially one slavishly devoted to intellectual or academic pursuits (Merriam Webster Dictionary). It wasn’t that long ago when being “nerdy” was shunned upon. Back during our childhood days, no one wanted to be considered a nerd. If someone was unattractive and intelligent, they definitely were the ones often teased.

In the novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, the character Oscar is seemingly nothing but a nerd. As a child, he starts out to be quite the popular flirt, even having two girlfriends at one point. However, as time passes he turns into the nerdy character no one really likes.  He is overweight, he can’t get a girlfriend, and his own mother even tries to force him out the house to play with kids his age. 

In this presentation, we will elaborate on what it meant to be nerdy in Oscar Wao’s day, and what it means to be nerdy now. We will provide possible answers as to why it was so unacceptable to be a nerd in Oscar Wao’s time and why it is more acceptable now. Also, we will take a look at the author, Junot Diaz, who in many ways relate to Oscar Wao but is now a successful version of Oscar.