Friday, November 11, 2011

Confessions of English Majors

Joseph Asbury
Far Western Associate Student Representative, 2011-2012
Utah State University

Five confessions as an English Major

1. I still like math. It is your friend, but you might not realize it.
2. I get to explore the world and time travel through books.
3. As a future teacher, I will get to share what I enjoy with my students.
4. Movies can be (and should be) viewed as literature.
5. The environments in English (and other humanities) classes are so welcoming
to everyone.

Nick Miller
High Plains Associate Student Representative, 2011-2012
Chadron State College

The Utterly True Confessions of an English Major

1. I spend more nights trying to decipher Henry James' Portrait of a Lady than hanging out with my friends.
2. By my third year of college, I have effectively replaced my blood with black coffee.
3. Studying Shakespeare makes me chain smoke.
4. I devote more time to reading and writing than body-builders devote to lifting weights.
5. Every night, I wrestle with the temptation to consult the “cheat-codes” of literature: Sparknotes.
6. Alexander Pope puts me to sleep faster than any cold medicine.
7. Whenever I walk into my room I nearly trip on the piles of books and papers that litter the floor.
8. You cannot sit in the backseat of my car because, like my room, it has essentially become my locker.
9. Most of the people I look up to died 100 years ago.
10. Procrastination is my most active habit and worst enemy.

Allie Martin
Southern Region Associate Student Representative, 2011-2012
Freed-Hardeman University

I, like most of you I’m sure, feel that my decision to become an English major was a brilliant move. But, I must admit, sometimes we English majors are misunderstood. In an effort to amend some of the rift created between the world and us, I asked my fellow English majors what their “confessions” to other majors would be:

1. I judge people when they use poor grammar.
2. I don’t like Jane Austen.
3. Whenever I say "good" or "well," I have a moment of panic where I have to go back mentally and make sure I've used them correctly.
4. I refuse to text ungrammatically.
5. Instead of getting songs stuck in my head, I get words stuck in my head.
6. I use Sparknotes too; I just lie about it.
7. I'm closer to the characters in my favorite books than I am to "real" people.
8. I hear words the way they're spelled. In my head there's a big distinction between "your" and "you're."
9. When I hear or see a word I don't know, I have the uncontrollable need to find its definition. It will drive me nuts if I don't know.
10. I have a compulsive need to tell everyone that I am an English major so that they know I am smarter than they are.
11. If I make a mistake in a social networking post, I delete it, fix the error, and post again. Once, I reposted a tweet four times before I finally got it right.

Some of these may ring true to your heart—I know I can certainly relate. In addition though, I’d like to add a few of my own.

1. I wholeheartedly believe that the book is always better than the movie. Always.
2. I sometimes go into bookstores simply to smell the books. No reading required.
3. Although I try not to be a complete grammar snob, I do judge when people say “anyways” and “backwards.” What is our infatuation with making things sound plural?
4. I don’t just sit around waiting for people to send me their papers to edit… but I do get a sort of superiority complex when they do.
5. I’m okay with ending a sentence with a preposition.
6. I think an English major is the best there is.

There isn’t a single way you can define being an English major, but a comment by a non-English major student in my Women Writer’s class may come close: “I’m not an English major, but I wish I were. Y’all guys are cool!”
And really, doesn’t everybody feel that way?


  1. 1. I use "which" way too often
    2. I rely on Word to fix my spelling errors
    3. "Smart" is not the reason I have a 4.0
    4. I misuse semi-colons....a lot.
    5. I have to resist the urge to say something sarcastic when people ask me, "Why would you STUDY English. Isn't that your first language?"

  2. 1) I'm only able to grow my nails until I start reading the next good book.
    2) I do my absolute best not to dangle prepositions.
    3) People are always giving me strange looks because I try to find creative ways to curse. (I "curse" using words you only hear in old movies.)
    4) I know the difference between i.e. and e.g., but I will always stress over whether I've used them correctly.
    5) I like making lists.
    6) I frequently go on "word binges" where I teach myself 20 or so "big words," then use said words obnoxiously in conversation.
    7) I have a stockpile of historical and literary trivia, none of which will ever be useful to me, ever.