What can one do with an English major?

In recent years, roughly 40 members of each senior class have graduated as English majors. Some continue their study of literature at the graduate level or put the skills they've acquired as English majors to good use in other post-graduate education, especially law school. Others go on to teach English in secondary schools, pursue careers in publishing, or work as writers, editors, and journalists.

In a recent colloquium at Connecticut College, four alumni - an inner-city high school English teacher, a fiction writer leaving a career in publishing for an MFA program, a law student about to begin her practice, and a fiction writer pursuing a Ph.D. degree in English - spoke about the value of their English majors. They agreed that majoring in English had not so much prepared them for a specific career as prepared them to think about the world and their own career paths more openly and imaginatively.

"New Voices, New Fiction"

An article in the Winter 2005 edition of CC: Magazine, "New Voices, New Fiction," relates how three Connecticut College alumni shared their experiences as writers and their thoughts on fiction in a panel discussion, "Why Does Fiction Matter?" during Fall Weekend, October 2005. The article begins: "Getting published is never easy. And getting a first novel published is perhaps the most difficult publishing trick of all. But three Connecticut College graduates had their first literary novels published to excellent reviews: William Lychack '88, author of The Wasp Eater; Ann Napolitano '94, author of Within Arm's Reach; and Martha Witt '90, author of Broken as Things Are. All were all students of English department writer-in-residence Blanche Boyd during their undergraduate years at the College.

Thriving Student Poets

In a 2003 CC: Magazine feature story about the College's "thriving student poets," the introduction notes: "In the last dozen years, Connecticut College has produced on average one honors thesis in poetry each year. This year there are an astounding five students doing honors theses in poetry under the guidance of one professor of English who has worked with student poets at Connecticut College for nearly two decades." That professor, Charles Hartman, the College's poet-in-residence, relates that student poets have also won the College's highest academic honor, the Oakes and Louise Ames Prize, for outstanding honors theses of their poetic works.