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Why I Majored in English

Michelle Schultz ’16

I’ve always been a bit of a bookworm. When I was young, I spent a lot of nights with a book and a flashlight, staying up way past my bedtime to launch myself deeper into an adventure. I always enjoyed literature classes in elementary and high school, so it seemed only natural that this would follow me into college. For some reason, though, I resisted committing to an English major until the middle of my sophomore year. It wasn’t until then that I realized being an English major encompassed more than just the canonical texts from the AP Literature list. In addition to Shakespeare, Flaubert, and Austen, I could read Caribbean novelists, politically active poets, and memoirs by contemporary female comedians. My course syllabi breathed new life into what I thought being an English major meant.
My brother jokingly calls my major “Reading and Writing” and although that is a
large part of what I do, it drastically oversimplifies the way that texts document the breadth of human experiences. Books are not only gateways into other worlds, but opportunities to look more deeply into our own experiences. My major is by nature interdisciplinary, reaching into history, psychology, sociology, religious studies, linguistics, physics, media studies, politics—and more—to derive meaning from language.
I love being an English major at Pomona because I’m urged to discover not only
the beauty and power of language, but also the multiplicity of experiences that come with it. I’m allowed to examine how different writers use language to uniquely tell a story or make an argument, and I’m encouraged to think about language as a tool for discovering one’s own voice and opinions. So, sure, I read and write in my major, but I also think and analyze collaboratively, critically, and comprehensively.