If you follow my blog, you will know that sometimes I get questions sent to my in box. This is a question that was sent to me this morning, “What should a student who is interested in everything major in at the university?”. In many ways, it was a very appropriate question to ask someone like me. You see, when I was in school, I had just this problem. The world of books looked like a candy store full of different kinds of wonderful candy, and they were telling me I had to just choose one kind, and it was hard. My dad tried to get me to study something that would make me rich. If money is all you are interested in and you don’t care how much you enjoy your life, go that way, but I didn’t. My oldest son wanted to get rich, and he did pretty well for himself with his major, but he really doesn’t like his job even though he makes a lot of money. I am glad I didn’t go the same way he went. Many people know that I chose to be an English major, and it was so full of every other subject that it was extremely interesting, and it has helped me to make a living and see the world.
As I got into studying Literature in my English major, I realized just a wonderful decision I had made. You see, when you study Literature, you study what everyone else has written, and everyone writes about something different. I was able to read and learn about psychology, history, mythology, culture, language, Theology, Word Religions, music, art, theater, and some of the stories I read even touched on subjects like Biology or Chemistry. For many years, I wanted a World History class, a European History class, or an English History class, but it seemed I couldn’t find one offered that fit my major, but I got to study those things anyway because of the Literature I was reading. When I read Shakespeare, I necessarily had to learn about the Globe Theater in London and the royal family. When I read something by Tolstoy, I was learning about Russian culture. Through Anna Karenina, he helped people to understand not only how someone could fall into the degradation of sexual sins, but also the results of treating sinners badly. When I read old Greek Literature like the Iliad and the Odyssey, I was reading about the foundation of culture and history in Europe as well as adventures and Mythology. I read a book called “Native Son” that was written by an American black man about ideas in the black community that many white people never knew existed. When I read “The Jungle Book,” or other stories by Rudyard Kipling, he was telling about things he learned growing up in India. When I read “The Rubaiyat” of Omar Kayan, I learned Arab thought. I read “Hills Like White Elephants” by Earnest Hemingway and learned about abortion and “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” and learned about slavery. I could just continue, but you can see that everyone told about where they lived or, the time they lived, or topics that were important to them. One of the questions to get my English masters asked me to outline all the major philosophies in American Literature from the beginning to the end and which authors believed those things and when they wrote.
You can learn about language and culture of India, of the middle east, of Africa, etc. if you are an English major.
Besides Literature, English majors also study linguistics, the history of language, foreign languages, grammar, and even phonetics, etc. It seems there are so many topics that an English major can study. If you add a teaching certificate like I did, you not only read psychological novels, but you study psychology and how to apply it.
After all this, the foundation of everything you learn as an English major always seems to come back to writing. As an English major, I wrote, and wrote and wrote. My papers were critiqued by all my professors. I learned so many things about writing that are way beyond getting your sentences correct or even getting the structure of the essays correct. I learned those things, but I also learned things like style, audience, etc. It is hard to list all the things they taught me about writing.
Mostly, if you are someone who is having trouble settling on one subject, I want to recommend an English major. If the world looks so interesting that you would like to sample every book you see and learn as much as you can of all of it, then try an English major. Your desire to learn lots of different things will be quenched. You don’t have to settle on just one subject if you are an English major You will be studying many subjects. Many English majors don’t stop after their are done with the university. I didn’t. I just kept reading. I just kept learning languages too because I knew how and thought it was fun. I have told people in my blog before that I have lived in several countries, and in every country I go to, I read about the history and culture of the place and study the language, and it is fun. English majors could get offered jobs in countries all over the world, and traveling could help you satisfy your need to see and understand many things.