Why Study English?

Skills

Courses in the department will develop your skills in close reading, critical thinking, effective writing, and thoughtful speculation.The techniques of analysis you will learn in each course will enable your curiosity, creativity, and independence and help you to grasp and describe the intricacies of literary art. You will become familiar with texts that have long been esteemed, as well as many that have been too long neglected, and that familiarity—the main substance of a liberal arts education in the fullest sense—can itself provide an ethical framework to help you make a difference in the world.

Careers

Surveys show that students with degrees in English do very well on the job market. Although traditional forms of writing are on the wane (newspapers, books, letters), our daily lives are increasingly filled with new kinds of writing (on social media, via SMS and email) and those who read and write well have a distinct, sometimes irreplaceable, advantage over other job candidates. An English degree can also be a key asset in applications for many professional schools (including law, medicine and business) where communication skills are at a premium. Graduates with degrees in English also have an unusually wide range of career options: in schools, as journalists, in publishing, entertainment, advertising, the theater, financial services, real estate, pharmaceuticals, and biotechnology (to name only some).

The Study of English as Unique

English is a uniquely broad subject and it becomes broader year by year as the world of textual production continues to mutate and expand. Courses in the department will give you a language for talking about literature’s great variety and about the pleasures–aesthetic, intellectual, affective, guilty–that variety can produce. You will learn theories that will help you read more insightfully and make subtle, nuanced judgments. You will learn histories that clarify the social contexts of the production of literature, other forms of art, and popular culture from all around the globe. And you will become familiar with the many ways that literature helps us ask questions about who we are–along the widely-discussed axes of gender, race, and class–but also in ways so specific that they belong fully only to the particular poem, novel, essay, or play you have in hand.