By: Alexis Kateridge
With STEM majors on the rise, often times English as a major is overlooked.
It will be deemed as an easy major, one that students choose to take the easy way out. It’s undesirable because students don’t find it as challenging as the majors in the STEM field, and so there is a stigma against it.
People often look down on the major as one that will bring in little money, no matter the professional path the student chooses to follow. It is not as stable or sure as say, mathematics or computer science, and so it is a risky thing to be an English major.
As an English major, I get either one of two responses: “Are you going to be a teacher?” or “So, you’re going to be poor.”
My response has always been, “No, I am going to be happy.”
Despite this stigma against it, English is a largely rewarding field.
Plenty of students choose this as their major or it wouldn’t still be taught in colleges all across the country. According to Data USA, there were 61,715 English degrees handed out in 2016.
There are several different paths that English students can choose from, whether it be in publishing, as a writer, working as a copy editor or teaching.
Beyond teaching there is also the option of becoming an English Professor.
Have you ever wondered what it is like to be an English Professor and the process that brings Professors to do what they do?
I had the opportunity to speak with English Professor Steven Monte about his work here at CSI.
Professor Monte attended Princeton College, originally looking to go into math. Despite his interest in math, he was drawn to Princeton due to its strong Humanities and Sciences departments.
Liberal Arts colleges are a great option, even if you do know what you want to do. They leave your options open as a student.
Professor Monte also had a strong interest in Foreign Languages, which brought him to Comparative Literature, which he wound up majoring in. His main languages include both English and French.
Professor Monte explains that “Literature (poetry in particular) appealed to [him] in part because they were problems [he] could not solve – they require a different approach.”
Professor Monte went on to do his PhD work on French and American prose poetry. He explained that this genre “begins with Charles Baudelaire in the nineteenth century and continues through today.”
He sheds some light on the idea of prose poetry by explaining that its become increasingly “popular among contemporary poets.”
He is currently focused on Renaissance literature, and is working on a book on Shakespeare’s sonnets.
When asked what three books he would recommend for all College Students to read, he suggested Shakespeare’s Hamlet, something by Virginia Woolf (either To the Lighthouse or A Room of One’s Own), and the poems of either Whitman or Dickinson.
He stressed the importance of exploring both different genres and periods.
CSI’s English department is filled with many other amazing English professors in addition to Professor Monte, each one having their own stories on how or why they came to English.
Similar to Professor Monte’s story, many English majors don’t go into college as English majors. Rather they discover a love for it later on in their college career.
As Professor Monte mentions, Literature and poetry are tough problems to solve, so they appeal to many students.
Ask any English major and they will confirm that it’s not as easy as you think. Consider having to read on average 100 pages a week, write seven to eight essays a semester and having to balance class work and other assignments on top of that.
STEM degrees might be the future, but it’s important to remember that English and the other humanities are important, too.