Quick Thoughts About The End of the English Major

Josh Spilker
2 min readMar 8

Big New Yorker profile about English majors. Of course, I have thoughts! I will write more about this in my newsletter, but real quick:

  1. Students are becoming English majors through “backdoors.” This could be media studies, communications, creative writing, even marketing.
  2. They want to create more than ever, but it’s very apparent (from the article and personal experience) that so many of the professors are stuck in their thinking. And Shakespeare being the end-all-be-all.
  3. Case in point, finally at the end, one of the professors says essentially like “The Wire” is the new novel (a decade-plus old observation) and that maybe English departments should consider TV more closely. You think?
  4. I watched The Simpsons in my communications class back in 2003. English departments have ceded so much ground, especially to film and creative writing departments in the last 20–30 years because of such narrow thinking. Digital/media/culture studies are about to do the same thing. They’re so interlinked and the canon has to expand.
  5. Kudos to the writer for not only talking to Harvard professors but also those at Arizona State. One interesting revelation was that immigrant students don’t feel like an English degree is really honoring their communities who put them in place to get a college degree; on the other hand, it’s the work of humanities departments who helped make a place for them. That’s a conundrum.
Josh Spilker