10 Things I Wish I Had Been Exposed To As An English Major
Education

10 Things I Wish I Had Learned As An English Major

I love the English department and all the experiences and knowledge I gained, but I still missed a couple things.

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Whether it was through taking that class I was considering but opted out of or if it was something that I didn't see offered through the department, there were some subjects I wish I could've learned during my time in college.

English is an incredibly broad field. This is a blessing and a curse as the whole world was my oyster and, yet, I was terrified by the choices I had to make. Additionally, I was a transfer and had to choose that much more carefully. From the time of my first-year orientation, the choices I would make would be what locked me on for the next two years. I do not regret the courses I chose, but I just wish I could've learned even more than I already filled my brain with.

Sure there were professors I also missed out on taking, but more importantly to me, there were topics and techniques that I had hoped to master that I did not even become familiar with or develop further.

From the intricacies of grammar to the importance of marginalized peoples and their literature, there are definitely some classes and areas that I did not expose myself to. If you're also studying English in some form at your university, I highly recommend that you consider some of these missed opportunities as possibilities for you to follow through with.

1. Specific historical movements and groups of people.

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I do wish I had taken the opportunity to take some more courses about groups of people different from myself or courses about events that I would not be experiencing in my life. Although I did take a couple of courses deviating from the stereotypical English courses, I still could've broadened my horizons further.

2. Foreign literature.

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I took an interesting course about French-Algerian literature and finally read the infamous The Stranger by Albert Camus. I had a fascinating professor who was not only well-versed in the material but fluent in French to the point where I thought she was the coolest person ever that quarter. Because of this, I wish I studied more foreign literature during my time.

3. Mythology and classics.

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A slight regret (but not a heavy one since I try to live life without those pesky things) is not taking a classics course while having to one of best departments of any university in this country. If you are studying English or taking English courses, I highly recommend you study classics, at least a little. The biblical and the Greco-Roman influence on the literature today reflects the similarity of stories told back then with the same stories we re-tell today.

4. How to become a better reader.

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This seems a bit inherent in the whole process, but I do wish there was some more emphasis on how to be a better reader. Although we were obviously competent readers who enjoy literature, for the most apart, most of us English majors were not required to take courses on learning to break down literature unless we took specific theory courses or had a professor with an affinity for close-reading. Thankfully I did, but I can imagine how difficult it might be for those students in colleges where that skill isn't emphasized.

5. Rhetoric.

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Rhetoric is one of my personal subject fields within the umbrella category of language and communication. Studying rhetoric and communication would've been an interesting interdisciplinary study especially in dramatic literature. Studying rhetoric and diction in Shakespeare was one of my most eye-opening experiences so it would have been interesting to apply it to more subject matters.

6. Non euro-centric literature.

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Not only foreign literature, but English literature written in the context of or by an author from a non-European country would've been interested as the canon has remained stagnant for a couple hundred years. Although the canon is shifting towards including more authors of minority groups, the shift still hasn't completely occurred on the university level, as well. Offering more classes of authors from backgrounds far less privileged would open up possibilities for more dramatic changes to the canon.

7. Grammar and its techniques.

I had a couple of professors who emphasized the importance of the writing, itself, rather than the subject matter. The best professor concept that I still carry with me is how barely anyone in English is going to have a profound breakthrough of an already overly excavated field, for example, Shakespeare. It is much more important that one understands the significance and impact of their writing than the originality of their content for the sake of learning. I wish that this was further developed in other courses that I took and that it would be a common theme in all English courses.

8. Linguistics and etymology.

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The study of the language, itself, was limited to the French-Algerian literature course I took, Shakespeare, and an Old English literature course I took, which included learning the language. I learned in-depth about the history of the English language and about how closely-tied a majority if the world's languages are. I had a deeper appreciation for the English language in the process, and hope that this same kind of linguistical training be included in our courses around colleges, as well.

9. Contemporary literature.

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Although contemporary literature may be more difficult to study as it is a constantly changing genre, I still wish that I took more courses with books that has come out in the last 15 years.

10. Genre-specific literature.

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I also missed taking some courses about specific genres, such as detective fiction, science fiction, graphic novels, and comedy.

Overall, I am incredibly proud of my college experience and all that I opened myself to throughout the last four years. Although I could look back at this list wistfully, with regret as to what could've been, the reality is that I can still teach myself about all these subjects, through classes or my own personal development. Whatever the case may be, I am incredibly thankful for the UCLA English program and I am proud to have graduated from one of the best English departments in the country.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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