Skip to Main Content

English Minor

Who knows who you’ll meet in literature classes?

Who knows who you’ll meet in literature classes?

An English minor offers communication and analytical skills valuable in any career.

  • ENGL 267 or 268 Survey of British Literature
  • ENGL 277 or 278 Survey of American Literature
  • ENGL 275 Methods of Literary Studies
  • Upper-division Linguistics course (choose 1)
  • Upper-division English and/or Linguistics courses (choose 2)
  • Writing course numbered 200 or higher (choose 1)

'Why Literature Matters' Transcript

[The Graduating Class of 498 Literary Studies would like to present “Why Literature Matters”, A Montage of both Students and Faculty Members providing an answer to this enormous question. So, without further ado….]

Studying literature has been important to me because I’ve learned to locate common ground. I read a text and I don’t have a lot in common with the characters and I learned early on to find something, find something that we have in common. This is a skill that has transferred to the people I meet in my community and allows me to form relationships with people who aren’t like me. That’s a valuable skill in my family and also in the community in general. I’m able to contribute in ways that I wouldn’t have been able to before.

Hi, my name is Madison and I’m an English Literature major. So, being an English major, I’ve learned about a lot more than just old books. This has been really important to making me a critical thinker. I understand how language works more. I am able to analyze and critique all the messages and the rhetorics that shape our world. And, most importantly for me, I can enter in meaningful conversations and affect social change.

I think literature is important to study because I enjoy history. If you want to know what goes on in a certain point in time in history before you were around, you should read the words that people write. It tells you a lot about what happened to who and it really gives you a lot more than just what history books tell you.

So, literature is important because, not only does it show you what was going on at a certain time period, but because there is a whole conversation that surrounds a piece of literature that shows exactly what was going on at the time. It’s extremely interesting to research. And then, also, I’m really interested in literature because I love to read. It’s awesome to know that there is a major out there for people like me who want to read and want to learn all these things.

All right, why literature matters. Well, importantly, you learn about life in literature. You read a book and you’re gonna learn about psychology, you’re going to learn about history, you’re going to learn about philosophy, and when you look at characters you’re going to learn about life. One of the advantages of getting into literature is being able to sort of live vicariously through other people. I think that creates better citizens because you develop empathy for your characters, for what happens in a novel or short story. In terms of creating better citizens in this world, I think studying literature is really important. It allows you to see the world through other eyes. So, I think that’s very important. So, I think in terms of a life choice or a career choice, literature sets the foundation in a really great way. You can get out there, communicate well, you can write. You know, law schools love to have lit majors because, of course, arguing and making a good argument, showing evidence, writing it down well, that’s what law schools want to hear. But, also, I have friends who are doctors, you know, they’re physicians and they were undergrads in English Literature and they still use that today. It helps them develop, as I said, empathy for their patients. They can talk to them in a way that is cultured, understanding, that kind of thing. So, I think in terms of career and a life choice just to live a more fulfilling life, literature really matters.

So, I study literature because it allows me to kind of take a time machine back into history and to understand a culture that I wouldn’t have been able to understand otherwise. As a writer, it helps me to become a better writer because I can see what is out there and tailor my own writing to the common trends in society today. And so that’s why I study literature.

I study literature because I love to read. It’s something that I’ve always loved and as I started studying English and learning more about the way that we talk about literature and the way that we study, it just became something that I just realized that I wanted to be able to do for the rest of my life. I love to be able to read something and learn about the author and about the world he or she came from as well as something about myself that I take away from the novel or poem or whatever. And then it’s just a beautiful connection between everybody.

So, why study literature? So many of the other fields out there focus on improving the human existence: how to cure us when we’re sick, make us more money, help us live longer. But all of those are valid and wonderful, they just don’t matter if we also don’t have something deeper, something more meaningful to care about. And that’s what literature does. Literature allows us to study what it means to be a human being. Without that, what’s the point of living longer or making more money? When we study literature, we study the essence of ourselves and of others.

So, why literature matters. Literature doesn’t matter until it does. Telling you is not going to be any better than you telling yourself that you’re going to have richer human relationships, participate in something larger, or have great memories. What is our human condition is that we’re born in a body in a particular place and a particular time, so we have a particular set of ideas and ways that we make sense of the world. And literature takes us out of that experience and allows us, makes us, inhabit, try on different times, places, experiences, paradigms of thinking itself without telling us what to think about it or what to do. So, literature is, in effect for humans, our developmental playground. Here is where we develop our moral compass. We become aware of what our moral compass is. And all the those critical skills you need to have a deep and present experience in life. So, literature matters because it expands our horizon. It will make you rethink your a priori beliefs and try on new ways of thinking. It will deepen the experiences that you have and, maybe, enable you to have experiences that you didn’t have. It will multiply your experience.

Getting to know the characters through stories is the best way to learn about history such as the slave movement and whatnot because you’re actually learning about what they have to go through and you have more empathy for those characters. We can then reflect into the future about how we live our lives and that history does not necessarily have to repeat itself.

I enjoy literature because of the fascinating people and places that I read about which inspire me to actually do something with my life. I’m constantly borrowing lines from my favorite characters to add flair to every conversation. I am more entertaining and intelligent thanks to Austen’s Elizabeth Bennet, Shakespeare’s Beatrice, and even Oscar Wilde’s Lord Goring. Literature’s greatest characters and lines are meant to be shared and it’s our job to inspire others with our passion and brilliance.

Literature is important because it opens us up to a whole new world and it also gives us a better appreciation for the one we live in at home. I think literature is important because it gives a different perspective. It’ll teach you a lot about the world and, for me, it has always been a good way to escape and go to different places I haven’t actually traveled to myself.

So, certainly there are countless benefits for studying literature in terms of just sheer entertainment, in terms of personal and intellectual enrichment, in terms of positioning yourself not only within literary tradition but within a historical context. But what I like to focus on most is the political and ideological elements in reading. That to critically engage with the text is a highly political and hopefully ideological activity. Approaching the text in this way, we see documents as sites wherein we inscribe our assumptions and anxieties about race, class, gender, and sexuality. And so we need to, as readers and students of literature, engage with the world at the level of narrative.

So, what we basically do in our studying of literature is we address human issues with a much deeper, dense knowledge of it. And in so doing sometimes we even question knowledge-producing agencies. So, in my opinion that’s what we do in literature and I think it’s pretty cool to do that. It is also something that is highly appreciated in the professional sector, in the job markets, so to say. Because, no matter where you are, you know what you are doing, because all of your training, your background in literature, how to read a particular piece, you are already trained in reading and writing and people like that. We are better readers and writers anyway, so people value that in us a lot. You think you are reading literature, a piece of work, but what you are actually getting into is engaging with some very deep issues. And that not only makes you a better person, but also helps you make the world that you’re living in a better place. So, that’s what I think literature is all about.

Reading has always been a huge part of my life. It’s influenced every single aspect of everything that I do and one of the main reasons that I love reading is finding connections with the characters. I find aspects of myself in heroines and heroes and I also see traits that I want to imitate that would help me become a better person. And that’s why literature is important. That’s why reading is important, because it can help you discover new facets of yourself and and it can also influence you and make you a better member of society.

It’s a little known fact that English majors are very sought after by various professional schools like business schools, law school, and medical schools. But on a deeper level, I think being an English major gives us time and space to really think about the great questions: the nature of the self, the nature of society, the nature of nature. And in our rapidly changing world, we need now more than ever to have this kind of humanities background. So, I think an English degree is one of the best ways to prepare for life.

You got anger? That’s good. You’re going to need it. You got aggression? That’s even better. You’re gonna need that, too. But any little two-year-old child can throw a fit. Literature is about controlling that voice, harnessing that perspective into a team effort to achieve a perfect paper. Some schools, they cut a player and they think they’re not making the curve. They think they’re hurting the team. This is a public school program. I will never, ever, ever cut a player who came out to play with me, but when you put that uniform on, that Bronco Literature uniform, you better come to work. We will be perfect in every aspect of that paper. You miss a citation, you run a mile. You have incorrect grammar, you run a mile. You single spaced your paper and I will break my foot off in your giant brown hind parts and then you will run a mile. Perfection. Let’s go to work.

Most of the reasons today you’re going to hear will involve why English is more than just reading and writing. But the truth is, if you really like reading and writing then English is absolutely the major for you. What’s more enjoyable than doing homework that you actually want to do? I have found so many authors and books that I love that I would never have experienced before being an English major and it really opened my eyes.

I think literature is important for a number of reasons, but one special one is reading texts and how you read them when you’re younger and how you can come back to them when you’re older and have a completely different perspective and knowledge and interest on things. Literature’s good.

[A Special Thank you to All Participants
(in order of Appearance)
Kayla Parker
Madison Hansen
Maria Clay
Brejeen McClure
Doctor Edward Test
Jim Gallas
Rob Erickson
Summer DuPree
Dr. Cheryl Hindrichs
Vanessa Generaux
Julia McKay
Cody Joplin
Marte Noren
Josh Marr
Dr. Reshmi Mukherjee
Rebecca McKay
Dr. Samantha Harvey
Graham Simmons
Brittnae Carr
Steve Larson

Thank You For Watching, and Enjoy the rest of the event!!!!
Opening Credits:
Doctor Who Theme
Background Music:
Closing Credits:
Ten Feet Tall