The Practical Value Of A Humanities Degree

The Practical Value Of A Humanities Degree

A concept that has at times seemed like an oxymoron.

A creeping concern that I have had throughout my college education has been of the practical usefulness of my degree. I suppose that this is an issue that haunts any humanities major, living as we do in a society that appears to value tangible products and profit above the kinds of focuses that often dominate a class in the humanities.

And I absolutely can see the value in studying texts from the past and gleaning the lessons they offer, but sometimes I have found myself thinking, how can this be transferred to solve the problems of our modern world?

Sure, these texts may offer lessons about humanity and they may be presented in beautiful, intricate, complex language, but how does that help in a world that is riddled with a plethora of issues that can at times seem overwhelming and impossible to combat?

Where does, say, Shakespeare fit in when it feels like we are left helplessly and ironically hoping that corporations will step up to defend reduction of protected lands from the greed of others?

Well, I think part of the solution is to not become overwhelmed by what can seem to be an overwhelming imbalance of power and to remember that perspective is important.

And inspiration may be found through literature and the words of its makers—one of my recent favorites, for example, comes from Ursula Le Guin, who in her speech at the National Book Awards, reminds her audience that

“We live in capitalism, its power seems inescapable – but then, so did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art. Very often in our art, the art of words.”

I am an English major, and during my final semester I decided to take a political science class. This class centered around reading novels which featured utopias and dystopias, and I realized the truth of Le Guin’s words through this class.

These novels (and I think science fiction specifically is a good medium for this) offered alternative realities, and I don’t mean dragons and time travel. They offered alternate societies that operated on different fundamental philosophies.

It is easy to consider the system we live in as having inescapable amounts of power, especially when we have not experienced much of an alternative. Novels of utopias and dystopias and alternatively structured societies offers a space for us to consider alternatives, to see that change is possible.

And thought certainly drives meaningful action.

But it was through this political science class that the bridge between literature and our modern world was made clear to me. Because the theories we think about in that class, about what an ideal world would look like, or an infinitely horrible one, are ones that we were constantly encouraged to think about in tandem with the world we are living in now.

There is something that happens though, when you really think on issues that are pertinent to this world, and when you’re painfully aware of all the ways in which our current world is more dystopian than utopian.

It gets to be so that you realize that you can’t just sit back and hope that someone else will fix things. You have to make the effort in any way that becomes available to you.

It may not always be fruitful, but often it seems that fear of one’s effort not bearing fruit can ensure that one never tries in the first place, which absolutely guarantees that no change will be affected.

The systems we have in place seem rather broken, and frustrating, and entrenched. All this means is that we need to think outside the box and that we need to make active effort to fix these problems. Humans created the systems we live in, and they can modify them, too.

Of course, you need to know what you are working for in the first place, and that is where one of the many values of literature can come in.

As for me, I graduate this semester, and rather than that meaning I am finished with my education, I plan to immerse myself in all the political theory I can get my hands on, because its useless to complain about how things are if a productive solution or alternative is not offered.

In any case, I am going to go and continue to immerse myself in literature with the hopes of taking that knowledge and applying it to my immediate world, and I encourage you to do the same.

Cover Image Credit: traveler1219 on Deviantart

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7 Ways To Avoid Pissing Off Your Cashiers

We're nice people until we have to repeat ourselves to our customers.

We have all been to grocery shopping or shopping for clothes. Have you ever felt like you were pissing off your cashier? Maybe you were.

Cashiers get pissed or upset pretty easily. For demanding customers to ignorant ones. They all come and go. There are a few that we like to see. Some of our regulars are our favorites

If you don’t wanna make your cashier mad, don’t do these things.

1. Tell your phone number unless asked.

If a store has a rewards card please either wait till we ask for it already have it out. If you don’t have one in hand wait till we ask for your phone number. Just don’t assume we are ready to hear the number. Because more than likely we are not ready.

2. Don't get mad at us.

We don't make up the rules. We just follow them. Just because it doesn't ring up the way you want it doesn't mean it is actually on sale. It could be a sale from last week we forgot to take down.

3. We don't like explaining ourselves more than once.

If you can't get it the first time why even bother trying to hear it a second time. It's a waste of breath and time. Please listen to what we have to say.

4. Get off your phone.

How would you like it if your cashier was on the phone while ringing up your items? It's bad enough when you don't have your rewards card ready or just fire it out like we are ready. It is also rude and inconsiderate when you are on the phone at checkout.

5. Don't dig your purse or that coupon that for whatever

Some stores have to keep certain IPMS (items per minute) and when you rummage for that stuff you run that little meter up.

6. Don't complain to us about something you previously bought.

Yes, it is typical for customers to complain but we can't do anything about it. The person to complain to is customer service because they know how to fix.

7. Read the sales...

Come on people. How hard is it to read? Yea things can be buy one get one, but read and see if that is true because it could be buy 2 get 1.

Cashiers are really nice people we love all our customers but sometimes the things they do make us upset.

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The Perfect Playlist Of Love Songs

Every song will make you want to settle down and fall in love.

Four years ago, I started making playlists on Spotify and became obsessed with creating them. At one point, I had over 50 playlists, but over time, I deleted almost all of them. This playlist, titled "Want," is one of few to survive the cut.

"First Day Of My Life" by Bright Eyes

"Wonderwall" by Oasis

I know everyone hates this song but it's truly a jam.

"Into The Wild" by Lewis Watson

Can't Help Falling In Love" by Ingrid Michaelson

"You Always Make Me Smile" by Kyle Andrews

"Yellow" by Coldplay

"Bones" by Lewis Watson

"Grow Old With Me" by Tom Odell

"Next To Me" by Sleeping At Last

"I Find The Light In You" by Joe Brooks

"Favorite Girl" by The Icarus Account

Fun fact: the official The Icarus Account twitter liked one of my tweets.

"Perfect For Me" by Ron Pope

This song is on 90 percent of my playlists, but IT'S JUST SO GOOD.

The Idea of Growing Old by The Features

"I Will Follow You Into The Dark" by Death Cab For Cutie

Death Cab For Cutie is on the "New Moon" soundtrack, so obviously I'm a big fan.

Cover Image Credit: Flickr

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