A degree in English is more than the opportunity to hone one’s critical reading and writing skills. It is a chance to study the content and structure of literature, as well as history, philosophy, foreign languages, and political science with some of the most intelligent and devoted professors at Johns Hopkins. Studying English has allowed me to push myself to comprehend difficult texts within a community of intellectually stimulating peers and professors. I would recommend the major to any humanities student interested in being academically challenged.
I always knew I wanted to study literature, but I didn’t know what exactly what kind until I took a class on Thomas Pynchon in my sophomore year. The relevance of Gravity’s Rainbow, an almost 50-year-old book, to the present day was striking, and it was the first time I really understood how important the study of literature is to my everyday life. Since then, I’ve embarked on several independent projects about capitalism, women’s labor, and postmodernism. I’ve gotten to do research in the university’s archives, and whether my project is scholarly or creative, my professors are always happy to offer feedback, support, and guidance—even when they aren’t directly involved in my work! I can’t imagine my intellectual and scholarly growth would have gone the same way in another department, and I am so grateful for the opportunities I’ve received here. Now I’m better equipped to understand the society and world around me.
Majoring in English, simply put, has had the most profound molding influence over my development as a scholar during my time at Johns Hopkins. Out of other majors at the school, I was most drawn to the English departments varied course requirements, which gave me the ability to explore various threads of intellectual curiosity that arose in my academic and personal studies. By retaining a rigid developmental framework to the major as a whole, while also giving students the freedom to explore and focus in a multitude of different subject matters, I feel as though I have become a better writer, thinker, and speaker in all respects of my life. This growth would not be possible, however, without the incredibly supportive faculty I interact with every day. Any project, however niche or premature, has been met with nothing but support and guidance, which helped the confidence I needed to find my voice as a writer. The English major has served as a template for my growth not only as an intellectual, but also as a member of our Hopkins community, and in the world beyond Homewood Campus. It has been an incredible gift to me, and I hope others explore this program far into the future.
Like many students here, I came to Hopkins on the pre-med track with an undecided major. I registered for a Freshman Seminar on Milton my first semester without thinking much of it, but pretty quickly, it became the only class I looked forward to each week. I was confused, because I never particularly liked or was good at English in high school. Furthermore, I had not considered pursuing a career outside of the sciences. I took a semester off to figure out what to do with my life, and hesitatingly decided to come back and pursue my passion in literature. That ended up being the best decision I made in my Hopkins career. I have met the most amazing, caring professors, engaged in the most fascinating research projects, and taken classes that were more intellectually and emotionally fulfilling than I had previously thought possible. I remember sitting on M-level during my first semester as an English major, astounded after reading Keats’s “The Eve of St. Agnes,” and realizing that this was definitely what I wanted to do with my life.