I have a BA in English Lit. This is surprising to many because I have a horrible command of grammar. I have to remind people that it is not a degree in the language per se, but a degree in the words…

People are also surprised to learn that my heart goes to all books great and small because I am an analytical person- I am fully based on logic and reasoning and proof. For some reason, those around me do not see logic and literature going hand in hand. Yet I am here to tell you that being a student of literature is one of the most analytic in town.

As a lit major, all you do is read things and look for clues.

You figure out foreshadowing and motivation: You scan for literary devices and tropes. You look for flaws in the authors reasoning. If that’s not analytics, I don’t know what is.

When I read, multiple things are going on in my brain. I am looking at the words- I am looking to how one word goes in front of the other and I marvel at how the author strung the words together to start an idea, how the sentences coexist to add the argument of the idea, and how the paragraph sort of wraps it up. It’s the beauty of language, the richness of the vocabulary, the way the sounds meld together.

I love how an author will create the layers- how they put a germ of something on page five, and then continue to back it up at various points in the work. And I love looking for the evidence of this.

I love when I am able to decipher the clues that an author has sprinkled throughout a work- when I as a reader get the “Aha” moment… whether it is the “who” in the whodunit, the “what” in a story of love and loss, or the “why” a character did what they did.

Reading is like solving a puzzle where the pieces are all over the place- but if we take one piece at a time and categorize it, we are soon able to put the puzzle together and enjoy the whole that became of separate parts.

That’s all analytical

And it’s why I say to never underestimate an English Lit major- we might know more than you think we do.

69 thoughts on “The English Major

  1. Wonderful post.
    One thing I can thank my parents for, especially my mom, is developing a love for reading. Reading was an escape for me. I used to love going to the public library as a kid.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. I just read a book that was not what I expected, based on formulas for similar stories, in which the main character went through a character transformation. It was interesting and actually very realistic, unlike many apocalyptic stories where the main character is portrayed as heroic or noble from the start .

    Liked by 2 people

    1. LA, I’m not surprised at all that you were an English Lit major. Literature is about reading and a love of reading. And yes, there are analytical β€œformulas” to writing. But there is also a free spirited type of writing too. However, I see that more in poetry. Yet, there is such depth in literature that one could spend a lifetime analyzing well written characters, tragic flaws, conflict, dialogue etc. Its a world that is creative and exciting and open to interpretation. Nope, I’m not surprised.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I too love layers. I love catching a thread at the beginning of the book and see how they weave it through the rest of the book.. I was working on that this past week on my novel.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I loved this! Our son switched majors his junior year from Theoretical Math to English Lit. My husband had a fit. He was sure our son had squandered away any chance at making a living. Our son is working for a tech startup in SF. He started in sales and now is doing data analysis for the company and he presents ways to increase their business and profitability company wide. I never doubted English Lit would be helpful for any career path.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. One of my husband’s best bosses who moved up the food chain at a major financial firm had a degree in English. He told me 30 years ago that he could communicate as a manager in writing. Others could not. He opened my eyes.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Love reading but you kind of make it seem like work. LOL. Just went to our library book sale this weekend and got 15 books for $10. I forgot my list of books on the 100 scratch off sheet or I know I would have gotten more!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Great post! I am soooo NOT analytical , well at least that’s what I used to think, but when reading books I do enjoy doing the same thing. Trying to figure out little clues that the author drops and getting the “Aha” moment. That is the adventure of reading. So maybe its just that I am not anaylitcal except when it comes to reading. LOL!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. English Lit was my favorite class in high school (AP), and we absolutely had to learn analysis and wrote a paper in class every Friday. Like you, I am very logic-oriented. My regret is that I am not able to write like all those masters of the language out there (then and now). I am enjoying reading some classics I never got to in my earlier years.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I just finished the first 50 pages of Seabiscuit for my bookclub. Normally I highlight great lines to choose from in later deciding on memorable quotes for my review. I knew from the first page that it would be a fruitless endeavor as the writing of the ordinary becomes extraordinary with Hillenbrand’s pen. I could just as well open the book to any page with closed eyes and land my finger on something worth quoting. Her use of language is so well done and brings to mind your words: “It’s the beauty of language, the richness of the vocabulary, the way the sounds meld together. “

    Liked by 2 people

  9. “Reading is like solving a puzzle where the pieces are all over the place- but if we take one piece at a time and categorize it, we are soon able to put the puzzle together and enjoy the whole that became of separate parts.” I love this LA. I am in awe of all English lit. majors. It’s the best path to being a writer and many other things.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. My understanding was that the most important aspect of gaining a degree was that it taught you analytical thinking, regardless of the subject. I know many view the Arts as having no value, but that thought process is transferable.

    My education was patchy to say the least during the years when the basics of English grammar were being taught, so I learned via reading. Fortunately I was a voracious reader even then. I learned so much more when I started to write myself, and I now cannot read or watch anything without examining the process. We are watching the Danish version of The Killing at the moment. There were so many groans at the (overly long) first series, and the glaring error in the resolution of the second. We’re watching the third to see what this one offers – other than the repeated tropes of mistrust for the protagonist’s partner and political shenanigans. I’m now wondering whether to watch the US version too to see if the writing was tighter.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Hear, hear! Majoring in English Lit is the best preparation for anything that comes at you in life. Beware, we know things and are capable of telling you in a logical, rational, articulate way what’s really going on.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. OMG there is the link between us. Every word you wrote is a perfect reflection of my mind and literature. I don’t have the degree but I do have the degree of analytical thinking!

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Ha I’m a technical writer. I can write properly and my spelling and grammar is fine (and we have tools to help make sure of that), but I don’t know the names of any of the parts of speech. What’s a fronted adverbial? Or perfect continuous verb? I’m only learning it all now because large boy is being taught it at school.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Yup, English Lit is all about analyzing… I got an A in English Lit at GCSE. I should have taken it further though! Nice blog by the way πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

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