Why English Studies?

It’s not hard to find answers any more, is it? This is the information age. The greater challenge is to think of good questions. For that, we need imagination, the mother of curiosity. Another thing we all need is the ability to question and evaluate the answers we find: to scrutinize their sources, to understand their contexts (historical, cultural, and ideological). Without that ability, we are all vulnerable to the danger of being influenced by Fake News. In the English department, we develop students’ imagination; we hone their analytical abilities; we teach them how a picture changes depending upon how it is framed; we help them learn to play the English language as if it were a symphony; we guide them through the process of making persuasive arguments, and we give them strategies for making a powerful impact on an audience, whether they are writing creatively or analytically. Becoming a better reader enhances an individual’s capacity to interpret the world, and it expands one’s ability to entertain (and ultimately weigh) multiple perspectives.

The list of topics you can study as an English major is a long one. It includes novels, films, video games, tweets, dictionaries, swear words, poems, Afrofuturist fantasies, pamphlets, and gender-neutral pronouns. Our courses range across eight centuries, and they intersect with many other disciplines: history, philosophy, music, science, art, law, and technology.

Finally, though, the main reason to study English is to increase your independence of mind and the power of your individual voice. Reading and writing depend upon sharpened senses, especially those of sight and sound. They develop an individual’s ability to analyze (take things apart) and synthesize (reassemble them in new ways). They demand self-awareness along with sensitivity to one’s audience. Power of mind and strength of feeling are amplified in interdependent ways. The end result of such discipline is that students gain the ability to reinvent themselves, again and again, and to find a career that is both challenging and fulfilling.