Ten Things You Shouldn't Ask the English Major

Ten Things You Shouldn't Ask the English Major

No, we don't all want to teach.
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School is back in session, things are looking up for me, and I am excited to start this semester with new responsibilities. However, one thing that has always been incredibly troubling to me is the societal perception of my major. So here's to us, English majors. We may always be reading, but sometimes, books are better than people anyway.

1) "Oh, so you want to teach?"

NEVER say this to an English major unless they have "licensure" after they state their major. No, not all of us want to teach, but some of us do wish to teach at the college level. It may be a long road to get there, but it is one that will be worth it in the long run.

2) "So, what are you going to do with that degree once you graduate?"

This is the number one question I get at family events. When I tell them of my ultimate goal of getting my PhD, their faces scream doubt. I hate that just because we aren't math or science minded that family and friends think we will not amount to much.

3) "Can you read my paper?"

I usually respond with a soft "no" to this one, but it is not because I don't want to read your paper. Most of the time, I am trying to read, write, and proof my own papers. It's not an issue of whether or not I like you, but the simple fact that there are not enough hours in the day.

4) "OMG, you must have the easiest major ever, right?"

WRONG. You would be wrong on this one. Just as I cannot type up a lab report without assistance, I am pretty certain that one would find it difficult to write the type of papers that I produce.

5) "How do you read all of that? I hate to read."

"All of that" usually consists of assigned reading for classes that I chose. As in, I knew what I was getting into before I signed up for the class. When people wrongly assume that I hate reading for class, they look like idiots.

6) "Are all of you liberal?"

I like to think of English majors as cakes in a bakery window. Each moist pastry is differently flavored, decorated, and filled, and have different tastes when cut into. No, not all English majors are liberal. Just as it is with most people, there are different tastes for different palettes, and my major is no different.

7) "What is the point of taking an English class when I already know the language?"

LOL, do you really want to go there? In the age of texting, it can be refreshing to go back to books. I find books to be like old friends that just never seem to get old. I get a lot from modern technology, but nothing quite connects me to the past like 200 year old poetry.

8) "Do you ever worry about not having a practical major?"

I don't know, Susie the Liberal Studies major, how practical is your major? When I get this question, I tend to get defensive because there are majors far less "practical" than English.

9) "Are you good at math?"

You're talking to the woman who sometimes plugs two plus two into her calculator as a precautionary measure. I am sure that if I was good at math, more careers might open up. However, I like my literature-minded brain just fine.

10) "If you had to redo college as another major, would you?"

To quote Hamlet, Act III, Scene III, "no."


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If You Wanna Be A Humanities Major, Know Your Worth

A call to arms or a sinking ship? How we should feel about being Humanities majors.
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In the wake of the tragic blows Stony Brook University has made against the Humanities departments, the overall sense of self and self-preservation within has been oceanic and more Byronic than ever. At moments it can feel like an opportunity for protest and community bonding, in others its reminiscent of being on a sinking ship.

We as Humanities majors can recognize our utility to society, that we are not all aspiring solely to be poets or artists, that there are myriad other career paths for us to follow and be just as successful as the deified STEMs, but with the stigma surrounding liberal arts, there is becoming less room for us in academia. The Modern Language Association (MLA) has reported that the full-time jobs in teaching English and foreign language has been steadily withering for the past five years with the number of job ads for tenure-track assistant professor of English positions declining from 879 in the 2007-08 year to 320 in 2016-17.

See also: Dear Stony Brook University, Stop Cutting Back Programs That Aren't 'STEM' Enough

The knee-jerk reaction to these numbers is the claim that society just isn’t valuing the critical thinking skills that the Humanities teach as much as they once did. It’s no question that it certainly feels this way. Most college-related websites are guilty of focusing their sights on increasing the volume of STEM majors. High school students bombard themselves with articles and lists stating the "The 10 Best College Majors For The Future" (which to no surprise at all does not list any Humanities field) to facilitate the responsibility of choosing a major that will supposedly "guarantee" a job or a high salary.

Sure, in modern society the amount of money needed for a comfortable lifestyle is increasing, and median salary numbers can be informative, but the more important variable for an individual’s future is the individual: their interest in the field, their success in it, their hard work, and their drive to reach the top and earn the salary they deserve.

In fear of becoming preachy, I’ll leave you with this. For all of my peers, predecessors, colleagues, and prospectives, we must hold down the fort. We are important for more than just learning how to write and communicate clearly.

Almost every question we ask ourselves is a question for the Humanities. When you want to know something more deeply, past empirical reasoning, that is a question for the Humanities. Politics, ethics, sociology, history, art, literature—these are the questions of the Humanities and they are all inherently valuable.

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31 Quotes for Theatre Majors

Wise words for the drama in your soul.
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Every theatre major is drawn towards two things: the human experience - or at the very least, the storytelling of it - and the movement from words on a page to life, especially on a stage.

Here's a series of quotes that speak to the gamut:


"I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being." - Thornton Wilder

"The further a society drifts from the truth the more it will hate those that speak it." - George Orwell

"The theatre was created to tell people the truth about life and the social situation." - Stella Adler

"When you ask me why I care so much, I wonder why you do not. When you ask me how I do so much, I wonder how you do not. When you ask me what I'm trying to prove, I wonder what you are not. You ask because you wonder, I wonder because you ask." -Ashley Owen Hill


"A theatre, a literature, an artistic expression that does not speak for its own time has no relevance." - Dario Fo

"I actually think that the most efficacious way of making a difference is to lead by example, and doing random acts of kindness is setting a very good example of how to behave in the world." - Misha Collins

"The theatre is a world in itself. The possibility for creating experiences that move people is increased many times over. In the end, the best stories are usually about a battle of good over evil - that has never changed." - Cat Stevens

"The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion." - Albert Camus

"Unless the theatre can ennoble you, make you a better person, you should flee from it." - Constantin Stanislavski

“The only way you can conquer me is through love and there I am gladly conquered.” - Bhagavad Gita

"A theatre is the most important sort of house in the world because that's where people are shown what they could be if they wanted and what they'd like to be if they dared to and what they really are." - Tove Jansson

"History shows us that the people who end up changing the world are always nuts, until they are right, and then they are geniuses." - John Eliot

"I like the ephemeral thing about theatre, every performance is like a ghost - it's there and then it's gone." - Maggie Smith

"The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty; not knowing what happens next." - Ursula K. Le Guin

"Great theatre is about challenging how we think and encouraging us to fantasize about a world we aspire to." - Willem Dafoe

“I promise I shall never give up, and that I’ll die yelling and laughing, and that until then I’ll rush around this world I insist is holy and pull at everyone’s lapel and make them confess to me and to all.”- Jack Kerouac

"Our stories come from our lives and from the playwright’s pen, the mind of the actor, the roles we create, the artistry of life itself and the quest for peace.” – Maya Angelou

"Oh we're a mess, poor humans, poor flesh—hybrids of angels and animals, dolls with diamonds stuffed inside them. We've been to the moon and we're still fighting over Jerusalem.
Let me tell you what I do know: I am more than one thing, and not all of those things are good. The truth is complicated. It’s two-toned, multi-vocal, bittersweet. I used to think that if I dug deep enough to discover something sad and ugly, I’d know it was something true. Now I’m trying to dig deeper.
I didn’t want to write these pages until there were no hard feelings, no sharp ones. I do not have that luxury. I am sad and angry and I want everyone to be alive again. I want more landmarks, less landmines." - Richard Siken

"People who believe they’ll be happy if they go and live somewhere else, learn it doesn’t work that way. Wherever you go, you take yourself with you." - Neil Gaiman

"If you go looking for adventure, you usually find as much of it as you can manage. And it often happens that when you think it is ahead, it comes on you unexpectedly from behind." - J.R.R. Tolkien

"Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it." - George Bernard Shaw

"It's okay to fall down and lose your spark. Just make sure that when you get back up, you rise as the whole damn fire." - Collete Werden

“I am always doing things I can't do, that's how I get to do them.” - Pablo Picasso

"I don't want to be a product of my environment. I want my environment to be a product of me." - The Departed

“All the world’s a stage
And all the men and women merely players:
The have their exits and entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts.” - William Shakespeare


"Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak." - Audre Lorde

"Hardships often prepare ordinary people for extraordinary destiny." - C.S. Lewis

"We fear violence less than our own feelings. Personal, private, solitary pain is more terrifying than what anyone else can inflict." - Jim Morrison

“Never apologize for burning too brightly or collapsing into yourself every night. That is how galaxies are made.” - Tyler Kent White

“It matters not who you love, where you love, why you love, when you love or how you love, it matters only that you love.” - John Lennon

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