So, what is “English,” exactly?
That’s a great question. In its relatively short, 100-year (or so) history, the academic study of English has undergone some big changes. English today, in a nutshell, is the study of how humans produce, consume, interpret, and think about texts, which includes everything from “capital-L” works of Literature (Moby Dick and Shakespeare, for example) to emerging genres like micro-fiction and web writing and pretty much everything in between.
English majors take exciting courses in fields as diverse as film studies, rhetoric, creative nonfiction, children’s literature, American and British Literatures, critical theory, and Irish studies. Some English majors pursue a more traditional track in Literature and Language, while others opt for concentrations in Pre-Law or Writing, Editing, and Media.
English also comprises the study of how people communicate—orally, in writing, and through the use of images and sounds—and how we use these various “symbol systems” to persuade, entertain, and inform one another about important social, cultural, political, and even technological issues.
Because English is such a large “umbrella” discipline full of nooks and crannies and specializations, English majors tend to be curious, bright students who have wide-ranging interests and a bit of a taste for risk-taking. In other words, a degree in English is more than just another BA; it’s a chance for you to discover something about your interests, your intellectual capacities, and, ultimately, yourself.
The study of English isn’t for everyone, but it might just be for you.
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