Thurs. Sep 13th.Revised 11-29-07
After receiving a BA in English literature from Michigan State University I have struggled to find a way to reconcile the disparities between such an esoteric course of study and real world application.
As a budding student I recall how the literature department first quelled my academic indecision. It was about six weeks into the term and I was walking into the English building on campus to meet with my professor. The hallways were lined with stacks of books leaning at crazy angles. The floor was streaked with dust, and what little natural light made it into the building seemed to pool in bright little puddles. Everything echoed and everyone whispered. Iron grey-haired men and women carrying attaché cases in a lackluster kind of way drifted up and down the stairs. At the end of an especially dim corridor, I knocked at my instructor’s door. He opened the door to what looked like the entrance to a book depository. We sat there, practically sitting on the book piles, discussing the unique viewpoint of Stephen Dedalus. After our meeting, I walked outside, suddenly feeling the calm and assurance of one who has found a place in employment for his or her passions.
I am not actively studying literature now. After I finished school I became doubtful of how much a graduate degree in literature would actually provide me. I have decided to take a more practical courses of study by expanding my range within the study of English. Essentially, I am attempting to amass experience in the discipline until I figure out how to best employ it.
In my current program most of the study revolves around language studies, cultural studies and pedagogical application as they fit under the umbra of ESL. As an MI student, I am engaged in a lot of ESL issues. I work with speakers of foreign languages and study language instruction methods. In Pope’s text this area of study would fall, largely, under the classification of English education and English language. However, when native English speakers are interacting with non-native English speakers both parties are subject to cultural transmission. So, whether intentional or not, English cultural study is also firmly enmeshed in this program.
My own interests outside the program remain entrenched in literature studies. Since my program allows for, and encourages creative methods, I intend to find a way to unite literature studies with my language instruction perhaps through a language instruction method that utilizes comparative literature methods.
As a new means of multicultural communicationand as a de facto global language, English becomes increasingly important.Yet, while the global climate changes, the future of English studies also becomes increasingly uncertain. More specific cultural elements of English may fade while others may come to the fore as established standards of social interaction. If English becomes the language of global communication it is possible that other elements of English may also come to define global interaction. This homogenized view may be a bit of an exaggeration, but it is very difficult to gauge where this global conversation is going. At present English seems to be the chosen language of global communication, that alone is enough to drastically alter the study of English. If just one of the other facets of the study also became a global norm we would again have to drastically redefine the discipline. It is also possible that English (as language, culture etc.), upon being taken up by the global community, would be subject to the same pressures that it once imposed through colonialism. If English is taken up by the global community then it loses its mono-cultural shape. Subjected to outside pressures English could change very quickly into something completely detached from anybody named William Shakespeare. In this sense it seems the current direction of English studies is amalgamation and/or dissipation.
Ever since I began my study of English Literature five years ago in that hoary academic building mentioned above, the shape and intention of the study have changed drastically. I have attempted to change with it and to become completely involved in that change in order to wrestle some kind of professionalism out of what has really always been the only, truly engaging area of study for me.