Why major in English

From “The Marriage Plot” by Jeffrey Eugenides

“That left a large contingent of people majoring in English by default. Because they weren’t left-brained enough for science, because history was too dry, philosphy too difficult, geology too petroleum-oriented and math too mathematical — because they weren’t musical, artistic, financially motivated, or really all that smart, these people were pursuing university degrees doing something no different from what they’d done in first grade: reading stories. English was what people who didn’t know what to major in majored in.”

Yep. That pretty much covers it.

5 thoughts on “Why major in English

  1. Apparently he’s never seen a syllabus for a course in 17th c. Cavalier Poetry from Smith College……or for a course in Milton or Chaucer.

  2. Or, in my case, what I got to after working through physics, computer science and accounting and realizing that time (and my parent’s money) was running out and I did need to earn some sort of degree. Too bad English turned out to be less financially remunerative than computer science and accounting (not sure about physics). Of course, I the made an equally astute career move by going into journalism, since I didn’t want to teach or wait tables.

  3. Agreed. And when you finish up with a major in English, and you don’t know what to do … grad school in English!

  4. Back in my English major days at UNCG, I recall us joking about the major’s description in the catalogue, which, in essence, said it will qualify you for any job that doesn’t require a skill.

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