Friday, October 14, 2011

Humanities

I posted this on Facebook, but thought it would be worth sharing here. 
 
Have you noticed that the world seems to believe that a humanities degree is worthless? This is frustrating for those of us who have these degrees and whose interests and passions lie in the humanities. While an English major may not directly prepare you for the increasingly high-tech, math- & science-heavy workforce, it does help you develop an open and flexible mind. It also fosters creativity and critical thinking skills. In the last couple of decades, these traits have become less important in the work world, but it's a mistake to discount them. ("Big mistake. Big. Huge!")
Is having read the works of Shakespeare, Dante, Dickens, Twain, Sophocles, or Poe going to help you in our society? Does the ability to write a strong essay or a beautiful poem, or understand Beethoven's music, or paint a breathtaking sunset get you anywhere economically or employment-wise? Does knowing the origins of sayings like "sword of Damocles" or "Catch-22" make us valuable employees? No. But it's still worth reading, writing, making/listening to music, and painting. In the end, these are what make life worth living, not your income, employment status, or what bank you use. It's frustrating not to earn enough to live off of, not to be able to afford your medicine, to feel oppressed by the people who seem to control our world; however, none of that should make us try to change our fundamental interests or desires. Let's not lose who we are just because society tells us what our interests or desires should be. These are a big part of who we are as individuals, and it's tragic to degrade that because there's more money in technology than in knowing classical mythology and being able to quote Austen.

I'm an English major, and I'm proud of it.

66 comments:

Kikyo said...

I couldn't agree more! :)

Nicolas VanCrey said...

Kate, THANK YOU. Why is is that we have to pay to get into society? You said it perfectly.

John de Denghy said...

Kate,

You are absolutely right. It's unfortunate that our society places more value on certain skills than others (say, professional basketball vs. composing music) and I applaud you for being proud of your major and standing behind your beliefs. I would be honored to have someone like you give an opinion on my own blog, where I deal with an array of issues where everyone's opinion is treated with the inherent respect they merit.

If you have a moment, please look me up:

www.mojitocorner.blogspot.com

John de Denghy

Jessica Burkhalter said...

I happen to randomly find your blog. As an english major on the brink of graduation, I have been dealing with this issue a lot lately. I posted something similar not too long ago. Glad to know I am not alone!

Poet said...

I agree with you completely. I might not be in college yet but society will only change when there is someone to change it.

Steve Finnell said...

you are invited to follow my blog

alok said...
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Kold_Kadavr_flatliner, sub/dude said...

=^..^= That's so #@!! cool. May God profusely bless you this Christmass season, girl, and may the peace of Christ fill your heart this year and every year till we arrive in the Great Beyond. Be at peace. See ya soon.

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~prettypenny~ said...

It is so SO weird that I stumbled across this blog (mindlessly clicking 'next blog'!) because I have just written the whingiest post on how I hate writing my CV, and how I hate trying to big myself up to do jobs that I will probably hate anyway, just so I have a better income and standard of living blah blah.... I am an English graduate as well and I feel that it is one of the best things I have ever done, but people seem to think it's weird I chose to "read a few books for 3 years". The University experience, aside from the course you choose, gives a person so much more than just reading a few books or painting a few pictures.. I wish people would open a book more, or their minds... Life would be far more pleasant if everyone understood.

That is all. :)

Joel Stottlemrie said...

I don't know that I agree Kate. Modern television and movie are continuing to re-tell the tale of the hero's journey. I also think that video games have begun to carry on the legacy of great story telling. Certainly the world is different, most of the pieces of great classical music from late 20th century America came from movies, but it's still out there.

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Najd said...

I totally agree, without literature societal traits and norms wouldn't be recognized they would be turned into different mechanics. To learn is to read. To read literature is to become tolerant and aware of others. It is the awareness of beauty existing as a result of our differences. Our knowledge revolves around our understanding of life that can be passed to us by literature.
Never underestimate the power of literature, as literature is culture, politics, history and last but not least arts that brighten our lives in a complicated world.

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Chloé said...

Amen to that. I'm, starting my English Literature degree in September, I'm so excited to lose myself in the world of literature and classics, who cares about the rest of society.

Follow my journey in this world
www.chloejustchloe.blogspot.co.uk

smarthotoldlady said...

Kate,
I am the auhtor of the Linguistics/English blog, http://smarthotoldlady.blogspot.com
We are kindred souls. My Master's was in English at Brown, and I did ABD in English, then defected to the Linguistics Department. I got my PhD in Linguistics with an English Language specialty in 1972.Check out my blog. I'll link mine with yours if you approve, of course, and I'd be happy to have you post a link to my blog as well.

High School Diploma Online said...

That’s amazing. I am seriously impressed and happy for you. I imagine that had to have been so rewarding for you after the long wait.

Alice said...
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Kayce1406 said...
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Alice Elizabeth said...

Hear, hear! I'm also an English major. Thanks for speaking up for us. :)

Anonymous said...

While I understand your ideas about Humanities, having done a Humanities course myself, I think it is part of your overall journey in which you absorb many things in order to make you more aware, to mature and to be, perhaps, more knowledgable. I also write and perform poetry, but I'm not sure the Humanities did my creativity much good; that wasn't why I did it, of course, but I did miss that freedom of writing, that ability to 'compose' what I, myself, had created, rather than remembering quotes, where they came from and so on, including doing that inevitable list of 'references' for each assignment. Ugh. Nothing, however, is wasted, I believe. Only dead salmon swim with the tide. JK

progamer said...

so true...........

tahir sumar said...
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ruzzel01 said...
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Emma said...

English is brilliant and a key part of society. Well said! Keep writing!

Jessica said...

I agree so much with your post! Thank you :)

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1300 number said...

I really agreed with that You are absolutely right. It's unfortunate that our society places more value on certain skills than others (say, professional basketball vs. composing music) and I applaud you for being proud of your major and standing behind your beliefs. I would be honored to have someone like you give an opinion on my own blog, where I deal with an array of issues where everyone's opinion is treated with the inherent respect they merit.

Sagar Khattak said...
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Kerin Gedge said...

Although I don't have a degree I'm heavy on the humanities too, and I couldn't agree with you more. Isn't it also ironic and somewhat hypocritical that the same people who say such interests are worthless are also the same people who use the money they earn from their technical jobs to buy books, go to the movies, buy music and art. Anyway, good rant and I'm curious to hear how that English Major is working out for you in the years since you wrote this?

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