The Value of English

Still Writing in the Margins

Welcome to the new home of Writing in the Margins, the University of St. Thomas English Department newsletter blog!

Look for us under the sign of the stained glass window.

Look for us under the sign of the stained glass window.

This new format allows us to share more stories more often. Instead of waiting for Writing in the Margins to show up in your mailbox twice a year, you can check in weekly to see what the English folks are up to.

What excites me even more is that we now have room to feature more writers. You, for instance. Current students: what drew you to English? Alums of the undergraduate or graduate English programs: tell us what you’re doing now. Have an idea for a story? Contact us! You + 400-600 words + 3-4 photos = Writing in the Margins.

That’s not the only thing that’s new in the St. Thomas English Department. While you’re online check out our revamped website. The Beyond the Arches page has career-guidance information for undergrads: internships and conferences and, soon, profiles of alumni and their advice about career paths for English types. If you would like to offer advice or mentor an undergraduate, let us know!

I’m always heartened to see stories touting the value of an education in writing and literature, inevitably under flashy, stop-the-presses headlines such as That ‘Useless’ Liberal Arts Degree Has Become Tech’s Hottest Ticket or Want Innovative Thinking? Hire from the Humanities. Liberal arts graduates are the “social alchemists” who know how to add “surprise and delight” to the technological world; their well-honed empathy helps them “read the room,” figure out what people want, and communicate beyond superficial levels. Look to the English major, who has “learned to play with big concepts, and to apply new ways of thinking to difficult problems that can’t be analyzed in conventional ways.”

At the same time I wonder, is this really such a shocker that we have to “discover” it over and over again?

17 Things English Majors are Tired of Hearing

kevin spacey

Students gravitate into our sphere to study what nourishes their souls,  fortifies them with powerful language with which to confront injustice, dismantle racism, and envision new worlds, and equips them for living meaningful, connected, committed lives.

What’s been most valuable about your English education? Do you still find yourself writing in the margins?

Me when I’m off campus. Researching in Greece.

Me when I’m off campus. Researching in Greece.

Amy Muse is an associate professor and chair of the English department. She is currently writing about the West’s complicated love affair with Greece, which you can read about at The Vale of Soul-Making.

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