Category Archives: the English major

What Is the English Major?

The English major is diverse and difficult to define, but during a semester exploring lots of ideas and conflicts regarding the major, we came up with analogies that say what the English major might be if it were a place, a movement, an animal, a time of day.

What’s the English major to YOU? Leave comments and video responses!

PS If you’re wondering about the finale, it’s because we’ve been reading The Use and Abuse of Literature, so Marjorie Garber has become our unofficial mascot. Oh, yeah.

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Money – what is it good for?

By: Molly Boylan

Is MONEY what it is for?

I think as someone who is an English major and has interacted with other English majors the answer would be: No. Money obviously isn’t the drawing force of the major. But from what I am reading in various articles, essays, and books, it was never about the money. Unless if you are looking at the funding being put into academics. It all gets shoveled into the majors of math, science, and engineering. Now, I’m not here to tear down the other professions that are out there. Personally, I think we all need to work together and use the benefits of each person and/or major.

However, just like everything else in society, if you follow where people spend their money you can tell what they care about. They are putting their energies in buying clothes, shoes, makeup, and plastic surgery. This shows that they care most about their appearance or what people think of them.

On a larger scale, American’s can tell what we care about most by where we invest our money as a country. If we look to the white house website, we can see that the Obama Administration is focusing on schooling that provides “on-the-job” skills. The President of the United States is telling us we need to do and get a degree in something that will make us as a country money.

Does this not seem backwards or maybe just a little off? I don’t know maybe I’m being naïve, but so are all the other English majors out there to think that we should go to school for things that make us happy and engage our minds, and helps us think critically so we can then define who we are. No! We must want to make money instead. (the thought makes me cringe)

Mark Slouka in his article “Dehumanized” puts it this way: “By downsizing what is most dangerous (and most essential) about our education, namely the  deep civic function of the arts and the humanities, we’re well on the way to producing a nation of employees, not citizens.” And it may be bold for him to say this, but it really seems that most of what I read this past week would agree with his statements.

The humanities are always having to fight for their worth. It must get tiring to love something that doesn’t seem of any worth to the community you belong to. For example, we can look at Patricia Cohen’s article in the New York Times, “In Tough Times, the Humanities Must Justify Their Worth”, “With additional painful cuts across the board a near certainty even as millions of federal stimulus dollars may be funneled to education, the humanities are under greater pressure than ever to justify their existence to administrators, policy makers, students and parents.”

I was getting tired of reading the same things over and over, but then I thought… imagine living this life over and over. And constantly battling these accusations that what you are doing isn’t nearly as important as what someone else is doing.

Christopher Freeburg in his essay “Teaching Literature and the Bitter Truth about Starbuck” suggests that in order for the humanities to attain more worth in the eyes of citizens, they have to make their fields and courses vocational. Meaning “giving our students an awareness of what they are doing, why they are doing it, and what it offers them beyond the loose rhetoric of critical thinking and writing skills” (Profession 2012 26). And personally, I think that is a great idea. We will just have to show them why that is true even in the humanities. We will prove that the skills learned in the humanities will provide the nation and human population something worth investing in.

Yes, it may sound like a lot to accomplish, but hey, we have degrees in the humanities – we can deal with whatever is thrown at us.

Playtime!

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because writing and researching and analyzing is hard work!

Hemingway, Sex, Travel and More Recent Conversations by Victoria Garafola

The Hemingway Review is a member of the Council of Editors of Learned Journals (CELJ). This membership elevates the quality of the work submitted and imposes specific guidelines for submissions to discourage ill fitting articles. Additionally, as a member of the CELJ, the Hemingway Review outlines specific regulations regarding inclusion notification and publication. On top of the requirements imposed by the CELJ, the Hemingway Review also has its own set of guidelines that help to ensure quality work is submitted. A word limit of 6,250 words is considered “ideal” by the Hemingway Society and works that have been published elsewhere are not accepted. Additionally, while the journal is open to all academic approaches, it does not publish creative writing such as poetry or fiction. Additionally, those submitting work to the Hemingway Review are strongly encouraged to consult The Elements of Style by E.B White as well as George Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language.” Furthermore, submitters should be very familiar with the existing conversation concerning Hemingway scholarship, his works, and his biography. Each issue of the Hemingway Review contains an updated biography. After observing the past two years in Hemingway scholarship, I have concluded that queer theory, gender identity, and travel are all trends in the most recent Hemingway conversation.
After consulting the past two years worth of issues in the Hemingway Review, I have noticed definitive trends within the current conversation on Hemingway scholarship. The most recent issue, published in fall of 2012, deals with queer theory, lesbian identity, and the works of Ernest Hemingway. These ideas, as observed in Chikako Tanimoto’s “Queering Sexual Practices in ‘Mr. and Mrs. Eliot’” and in Jennifer Haytock’s “Hemingway, Wilhelm, and a Style for Lesbian Representation,” show a clear trend in the most recent Hemingway scholarship and provide a framework for future conversations with this topic.
Last spring’s issue of the Hemingway Review trended several articles dealing with nature in relation to Hemingway’s work. Alexander Hollenberg’s “The Spacious Foreground: Interpreting Simplicity and Ecocritical Ethics in The Old Man and the Sea” and John Voelker’s “Some Post-Fishing Thoughts on Hemingway and Writing” also incorporates Hemingway’s love of the outdoors into its criticism. Another idea trending in this issue is the notion of international travel. It is well know that Hemingway was a proud expat, however these recent articles explore that part of Hemingway’s identity. In “ ‘A Trick Men Learn in Paris’ : Hemingway, Esquire, and Mass Tourism” by Kevin Maier and in “ ‘He Was Sort of a Joke, In Fact’ : Ernest Hemingway in Spain” by Jeffrey Herlihy-Mera one notices a clear renaissance of Hemingway scholarship that deals with his international travels and love of all things foreign.
In the Spring 2011 issue of the Hemingway Review, I noticed clear trends discussing masculinity and race in regards to Hemingway. Josep M. Armegol-Carrera wrote an article titled “Race-ing Hemingway: Revisions of Masculinity and/as Whiteness in Ernest Heningway’s Green Hills of Africa and Under Killmanjaro.” Additionally, in the same issue an article by Andrew Feldman was titled “Leopoldina Rodriguez: Hemingway’s Cuban Lover?” and another article titled “The Elephant in the Writing Room: Sympathy and Weakness in Hemingway’s “Masculine Test,” The Garden of Eden.” These articles all come full circle with the most recent issues’s conversation about queer theory and lesbian representations in Hemingway’s work.
Most important to realize is the gravity of these trends. They are not a coincidence. Rather, they are an insight into the current conversation and new theories circulating around Hemingway’s bibliography. Moving forward, this knowledge will enable me to write about Hemingway in a way that contributes to the current conversation without reiterating someone else’s ideas.

Full text of these and other issues of the Hemingway Review can be found at http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/hemingway_review/

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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.