I'm certain that the articles regarding the validity of the English major have raised quite a hullabaloo. Though both writers gave very rational arguments, neither accounted for what I find to be the true value of an English major: Essentially, literature writes the legacy of man.
Across genres and formats, writing provides insight into the subjective experience of our species. Almost no item of technology or textbook can shed light on the day-to-day humdrum and thought process of an individual.
As a matter of fact, history would have no premise without literature since much of the primary sources from which historians draw come from anthologies of prose. Ancient societies with systems of writing have their culture preserved for our generation to scrutinize, whereas those which leave only physical evidence are shrouded in a veil of mystery (hence the fields of archeology and anthropology).
When the zombie apocalypse hits or we run out of fossil fuels, our descendants will draw upon literature to study our lives. Ponder this, scientists – or rather any who dismiss English as a legitimate major: When you accomplish whatever you dream, whom will you call to write the biography chronicling your achievement? Or will your name, life and contribution be lost to the history of mankind, taken for granted and utterly forgotten?
I do not believe you can dismiss the value of creative expression. We cannot all communicate through spoken language or objective observation. For many authors, amateur or published, the process of writing is in itself cathartic, stimulating and rewarding. Avid, active consumers of literature may find the process of reading equally insightful and may be inspired to apply knowledge gleaned from text to better their own lives. Prose can capture the creativity of an artist through rhetoric, with their burgeoning imagination as a muse. Academic scholarship is a form of art in itself in which every mind interprets every text – and in fact every word – differently. Literature has provided rich resources for psychologists, historians and literary scholars alike to dissect the mind of humanity – its patterns, its potentials and its depths.
I didn't find the actual content of the articles quite as offensive as the sense of entitlement which prompted them. Frankly, I can't fathom how someone can feel the impetus to evaluate an entire field of study, especially one as archaic and vast as that of literary scholarship. We could all do with a dose of humility and try to appreciate the strengths, weaknesses and contributions of all our fellow humans. Call me a humanities major preaching intangible mumbo-jumbo, but I truly believe that we can all learn an awful lot from one another beyond academics.
Of course, this entire article can be dismissed because clearly I'm biased in my defense of English majors. I cannot claim objectivity when I too am daunted by the lean academic job market in which competition is ruthless, as passionate scholars duke it out for scarce professorships and grants. As a psychology-history double major, I empathize with literary scholars, as I am often taunted that psychology is at best a "soft" science and history, utterly obsolete.
My "conclusion" cannot be quantified through the scientific method or qualified by; therefore, this article is entirely void. Why did you waste your time reading it?