The English Major

Thanks to the fact that my school doesn't have a spring break, I only have finals week left and then I'm free from all cares and worries until September. Except for that pesky business of raising my four kids and taking care of the house, the bills, and all the other mundane tasks of life, of course.

So I've been giving a lot of thought this year to whether I should continue to pursue an English degree or if I want to do something practical instead. It's been said that English is a fairly worthless major when it comes to getting a job, but I'm doing the editing minor to get job training, and what I really want to do is write books anyway, not get a job. To be perfectly honest, though, I've been wondering how reading a lot of very old literature and speculating about what the author was trying to say will help me write books for today's market.

Something my literature professor said last week really struck a chord with me, though. She was talking about authors framing their stories in certain ways in order to make connections with past literature, juxtapose certain concepts against others, allude to certain things, etc. It made me realize that maybe studying old literature can have a positive impact on my writing, even if I'm not using that literature as a model for how to write my own stories.

For instance, an author we studied this year was Alexander Pope. He wrote what is called a "mock epic," in which he used all the literary devices of an epic poem, but he was writing on the subject of a lost lock of hair. By putting the story of a lock of hair being cut off in the frame of an epic poem, he helped make his point that the people involved were making mountains out of molehills.

So, what do you think? Does the English major have practical value? Will it help me with my writing? Or do you think I should switch to Linguistics or the English Language major, which I could finish up and have a degree with much quicker?