Monday, October 29, 2012


I was perusing the internet the other day when I stumbled on a funny comic strip aimed at English majors. The comic was titled “The Perks of Being an English Major” and went something like this. In each of the four panels the main character, Jacob, finds himself in situations where his literary prowess makes him a desirable commodity. In the first panel, Jacob finds himself in a real predicament as two girls vie for his attention. “Read me a book, Jacob” screams one girl. From another corner, a girl begs Jacob to “analyze this poem for me, baby.” Cool and collected, Jacob responds by informing these love-struck ladies that he’s a very busy man. Apparently Jacob isn’t lying. Citing Jacob’s “exceptional prowess in English,” In the next panel an old man offers Jacob “all the jobs.” And, in the third panel, Jacob finds that the president himself is need of Jacob’s skills. “I need you at the White House to analyze the Shakespeare play” the president says. Jacob dutifully rushes off in order to save America. The comic ends with Jacob, after all his hard work, rolling in a big bag of money.

As an English major, I’m confounded, and quite frankly, a little disappointed. The only time women have fought for my attention was that one time we had to work in groups on a science project, and I was the only one who seemed to know what we were doing. As far as being offered
 “all the jobs” I guess that comes after you’ve completed your degree. And, come to think of it, the only time the president has ever contacted me personally is via email, and he’s usually just telling me that now is the time to toss five dollars his way to make a change. I guess I’m just wondering where this guy Jacob went to school. Maybe he focused on Elizabethan poetry. Maybe that’s where the money and the women are. I mean, I guess it makes sense that people would rather hear Marvell’s “To My Coy Mistress” than Eliot’s “The Wasteland.” Maybe I’m just stuck in the wrong time period.

Either way, I’d like to put it out there that although I’m pretty positive that this particular comic is satiric in the way in which it represents the perks of being an English major, there are actual perks to studying writing and literature. Firstly, I’d like to point out how much I’ve grown as a writer and thinker thanks to my major. Though I have always considered myself a critical thinker, I have learned to be even more discerning in everything that I do. I know that this is thanks to my major.  Secondly, I’d like to point out how nice it is to go to classes that naturally interest me.   If you love literature as much as I do, it isn’t a drag to go to classes on literary theory or William Faulkner. It makes your academic career that much easier.
Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, I truly believe that literature is a subject everyone should study. As readers, we open ourselves up to new possibilities and are consequently asked to imagine and reimagine relationships, hopes, dreams, and desires. “A good book is the precious lifeblood of the master spirit,” Milton tells us in the Areopagitica. Through reading, we gain access to a another consciousness and being. I can think of nothing more exciting. So I guess there are perks to being an English major. Though I don’t anticipate rolling around in bags of money anytime soon, I do anticipate a bright future. At least it better be bright. I’m going into my senior year. Well, I’ll let you know. One more week until I find out whether or not I got that job with Teach for America. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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