Renowned Argentinean postmodernist, Jorge Luis Borges, declares that he “could not imagine the universe” had he not read works by great writers such as Shakespeare, Dostoyevsky, Milton, Conrad, and others. Borges sees all humanity as creative beings, constantly exchanging old worlds for new. Since we create the worlds that we imagine, we ought to take our task to heart and imagine our worlds well. From among the best artistic minds we may, like Borges, choose our guides.
To study literature is to study the past, the present, and the future within the beautifully complex and nuanced context of artistic expression. Familiarity with important literary works deepens thought and enriches the life of anyone in any career. Thus, a degree in literature is good preparation for a variety of professional pursuits. Our horizons are forever broadened by thinking about characters and human situations represented in art, as well as about the subject of verbal representation, itself. In addition to advanced studies in literature, law school, or teaching in the public schools, opportunities in communications, public relations, journalism, publishing, foreign service, librarianship, writing, advertising, editing or government work present themselves to the mindful English major with good writing skills.
What Can You Do With a Degree in Literature?
Graduates with majors in English develop careers in advertising, business, communications, education, information science, media, public service, publishing, sales, and writing. According to a recent article in Perspectives, a publication of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington, an English degree prepares graduates for success in a wide variety of fields.
Graduate or professional study is also an option for those interested. Graduate programs in English, education, political science, government, library and information science, public administration, psychology, counseling, communications, business, and religious studies, among others, are available to literature majors seeking advanced degrees.
According to the American Bar Association, a degree in literature is excellent preparation for the study of law. Practicing attorneys and law school deans frequently remark that the kind of critical thinking and textual analysis required of English majors provides the best preparation for legal studies.
The Association of American Medical Colleges declares that students majoring in areas of the humanities, such as English, tend score above the mean on all three parts of the MCAT exam, and they score higher than any other majors on the verbal reasoning section of the exam.