Dr. Anne Matthews in class.
Let's be frank about it. We all love English studies.
From the time our parents start reading to us until the day we die, we enjoy reading books, watching films, writing, hearing and telling stories. Have you ever noticed what people do on airplanes or in airports? Yes, English studies - reading, writing, newspapers, magazines, films, books - are everywhere. Do you see anyone doing other studies for fun in the airport?
Do you remember the joy of learning to read chapter books? Do you remember the excitement of learning to write? Do you still get a rush of excitement opening a new novel? Do you get excited watching your ideas go from conception onto a printed page or onto a web page? Ah, yes, that's why a few of us lucky ones get to continue for a lifetime devoted to English studies. We just don't want to give up the joys, the pleasures, the challenges of words. We want to read everything. We want to write what we know and feel. We want to be entertained and to learn from books. So many great authors to read. So many novels to discover. So many poems to feel. So many news stories to get. So many books to edit and publish. So many web sites to design. Ah, English studies!
It should not be surprising to you that English studies are the main constant in all schools (from kindergarten through Ph.D. levels of study). The two primary activities of all education are learning to read and write, which is why there are so many diverse opportunities for students who go into English studies—English majors become teachers, writers, researchers, editors, publishers, lawyers, technical communicators, copywriters, corporate analysts, human resource managers, librarians, program managers, grant writers, journalists and web designers. We have the joy of reading and the valuable literacy skills to have highly desirable, successful careers. That's why English majors rock!
That's it. We go into English studies because it has both great personal intrinsic rewards AND so many opportunities for professional extrinsic rewards. What could be greater than getting paid for what we love doing? We have great personal lives and great careers.
Of course, English studies is not for everyone, even though everyone loves the products of our work. With so many people trying to pursue a life of literature and writing and publishing, it is a very competitive field. You need to love reading and read a lot. You need to be an excellent writer and want to become an even better writer. You need to be willing to commit your entire mind and dedicate your time to self-improvement. You will have to learn about self-initiative and creativity and you will need to become a bit hard-boiled by critical response and rejection. If you can take the heat, you will have a rewarding life-long career in English studies.
Most students get started in English studies because they love reading, writing and books. Perhaps you realized that your English teacher had the greatest impact on your life, and the courses that have always been most engaging to you have been in English studies. The English faculty at Millikin take great pride in our excellence in teaching, and we share your passion for books. We are dedicated to preserving your LOVE of reading and writing. The English faculty want to help you transform that passion for words into lifelong habits of reading and writing for professional and personal success.
The English faculty take both your love of words AND your desire to develop professional abilities very seriously, and we invite you to become an in-depth, critical reader as well as to develop your writing, editing and publishing skills to a level of personal best excellence.
Let me make a few suggestions to help you get started in English studies at Millikin:
Come to English department events so that you can get to know English professors and fellow English majors. We have lots of readings, guest speakers, social events, and informal reading or writing groups. Come join in the fun. It's free and you can learn a lot as well as make some great friends.
You will be experiencing some English faculty in your CWRR courses, but take advantage of our special workshops and roundtables for English majors. These one credit workshops, such as Creative Writing Roundtable and the Journalism Lab Workshop, can be taken several times, so they are a great way to get started in English studies. These workshops always have English majors from all four years of study, so it is an excellent way to get to know some of junior and senior English majors as well as first and second year majors.
Sophomore level courses such as EN241 Classical Traditions and EN200 Writing Seminar and EN201 Introduction to Creative Writing are excellent courses to take your first or secondyear of your English studies. English Education majors get started with EN235, Secondary Language Arts Methods.
Finally, don't hold yourself back to the minimum requirements of any English course. Read ahead of the class and get your questions ready before class discussion. Ask your professor for additional resources and related books to study dealing with the topic of the course. Take initiative and do extra writing or reading to extend the work of the English course into some of your own personal connections and interests.
Remember, YOU are the person who can make the GREATEST contribution to your education. You will get returns only in proportion to what you investin your studies. In English studies the faculty will push and challenge you, but we also expect you to take initiative, to learn how to inquire, to read, to write on your own.
We are always pleasantly surprised to discover that you continue to want to read and write and edit and publish and teach NOT just because we assigned it. So my final suggestion to you as you get started in English studies is to HAVE SERIOUS FUN! Enjoy your English studies. Love every minute of it. Find a way to make every assignment your own. Venture into works of literature you've never considered before. Try out that type of writing that seems so difficult or foreign to you. See if you can write for the DEC. Learn the computer technology of contemporary writers and publishers. But above all else, retain and nourish that love of reading and writing you started with.
Best wishes and break a book spine.