Category Archives: reading–usefulness

English Major? Don’t Even Think About It!

By Luis E. Canales

We, English Majors, are not always perceived and appreciated as such.  The world would not be the same without the wonderful work that has been done by the many English scholars who have dedicated their lives to the service of literature.  I find it hard to believe that there could be a world full of English scholars whose only purpose for choosing their major would be money.  English majors are invited by the vast ocean of opportunity that is presented to them when they decide to become English majors, literature scholars.

Those who stereotype us know, as does Marjorie Garber in her book The Use and Abuse of Literature, that being an English major is “So much for pleasure” (36).  The price paid for an English degree far exceeds what one may earn on a job in that field, but the pleasure obtained from this kind of scholarship, also far exceeds what any other kind of scholarship may offer.  Let me be clear here, I do not at all mean that all English majors are underpaid.  There are a great number of English majors who are now making a ton of money, thanks to the kind of knowledge they now possess.  But, the whole point here is that people often misjudge and criticize others without knowing better.

When it comes to misjudging others, think of the example that Garber gives us when she says, “If a scholar insists on marrying, he should choose ‘some little elderly widow” (37).  Like if saying an English scholar won’t be able to provide enough for him, not even to think it possible to provide for a wife and children.  But, if he finds that old lady that has a lot of money, which she inherited from her late husband, then it is not only possible to marry but to actually make a living as an English scholar.

I find all these kinds of stereotypes funny and think of myself in a position like that.  Of course all of that is not true, as the word says, they are just stereotypes, a standardized mental picture that is held in common by members of a group and that represents an oversimplified opinion, prejudiced attitude, or uncritical judgment (www.merriam-webster.com).  Therefore, we, English majors, should not be paying attention to all these kinds of nonsense and instead focus on the goodness found only within the English scholarship.  That is something that I definitely want, and is something that makes me and all English majors different from the rest of the world.