Sometimes I wonder if other human beings believe that all I do is sit in a classroom of five or six other fellow English scholars and discuss why curtains are blue in chapter six of x story. I have been outright scoffed at when it was revealed that my degree will be in English. To practical human beings, we are the lazy facet of society, not quite crazy enough to be artists but still very much of a similar caliber. Artists are the shot guns and we English people are the pistols.
People argue the value of art, but no one denies the value of beauty. We care so much about beauty that we’ve dedicated entire empires of commerce to it. We complain about the altering of it in the media. We obsess over the lives of those able to achieve it. But more often is Kim Kardashian discussed in the news than Margaret Atwood. If Atwood had Kim’s ass, how much do you want to bet more people in the media would pay attention to her? But Atwood is still pretty sexy in that picture, isn’t she?
What is the value of the English degree?
If you have absolutely no imagination or drive, there is absolutely no value in an English degree. But the same is true for an entrepreneur. A business doesn’t thrive without diligence and innovation. Neither does the literary community. I won’t tell you to get any sort of degree if you are incapable of imagining a path for yourself that requires it.
The value of the English degree for myself is the first stepping stone to my future. I want to be a writer. But being a writer is not a good day job. I don’t enjoy poverty, as I suspect most people don’t. Therefor it was the closest I could come to my dream career without starving. This first stone was one of several in a series.
So we come back to what it is I do all day.
I read. I really do read alllllllllllllll day. Some of us write too. Some of us play dungeons and dragons. The truth is, we are a diverse bunch. And we spend an ostensibly long time learning about how to read rather than what to read. The purpose of our education isn’t just to have read the most classics offered on Amazon. The purpose of our education is to require us to comprehend what we read, and then to funnel our eureka moments into a feasible argument that supports our theories.
Even English majors complain about having to write papers. Unfortunately, I have no sympathy for these particular people. Becoming an English major is a guarantee that you are going to spend a good portion of your time theorizing ways to not have to write six 20-page papers all due on the same day. I knew this well when I signed up for this major.
As I come to the close of my undergraduate education, I see it as a whole entity. I don’t just sit around reading books all day. I sit around imagining. I read. I think. I connect. I imagine. I stimulate my mind with the possibilities of all of the information I am capable of obtaining. The only difference between myself and a medical student is, I can pretend to be a doctor in my books and get away with it. All I need is knowledge.
And therefor, to be whatever I choose to be, I need knowledge.
I don’t write in a vacuum. I don’t have an exclusively placed cabin in the woods where I can escape to. I don’t sit with a pipe in front of a fireplace reciting Shakespeare to myself.