Date: Thu, 28 Sep 1995 17:56:59 -0500

From: Natalie Maynor maynor[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]RA.MSSTATE.EDU

Subject: Re: What Can You Do with a Degree in X

Here's something Harry Donaghy, my dept head, put together a few years

ago to hand out to prospective English majors. I have a copy online

because I included it in the department's web pages.




Some students who enjoy English courses hesitate to major in the

subject because they think that few career options are open to English

majors. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The stereotype of the English major as a grammar-spouting schoolmarm

or wild-eyed poet has always been a convenient myth for people who

have trouble with the first two of the three R's. Like many

stereotypes, this one has a grain of truth. Some English majors choose

a career in teaching. And some go the way of Douglas (Hitchhiker's

Guide to the Galaxy) Adams, Gwendolyn ("We real cool") Brooks, Tom

(Clear and Present Danger) Clancy, Allen ("Howl") Ginsberg, Joseph

(Catch 22) Heller, David Henry (M. Butterfly) Hwang, Stephen (Master

of Horror) King, Arthur (Death of a Salesman) Miller, Toni (Beloved)

Morrison, Amy (Joy Luck Club) Tan, and Eudora Welty (to name but a few

creative writers with English degrees). But thousands of English

majors choose to employ their communication and problem-solving skills

in a wide variety of other career fields.

Although it is loath to meddle with a myth, the English Department at

Mississippi State feels obliged to do so for the sake of students who

would like to major in English but are concerned about it's practical

value. By way of reassuring this group, we offer the names of a few

English majors who have prominently offended against the stereotype.

Alan Alda--actor, writer

Russell Baker--journalist

Dave Barry--humorist writer, actor

Linda Bloodworth-Thomason--television writer/producer (Designing

Women, Evening Shade)

Carol Browner--Head of the Environmental Protection Agency

Chevy Chase--comedian, actor, writer

Mario Cuomo--Governor of New York

Michael Eisner--Walt Disney CEO

Jodi Foster--actress, filmmaker

Kathryn Fuller--World Wildlife Fund CEO

A. Bartlett Giamatti--President, Yale University and Commissioner of


Cathy Guisewite--cartoonist (Cathy)

Chris Isaak--songwriter, singer

Stephen King--novelist

Paul Newman--actor, food entrepreneur

Joe Paterno--football coach (Penn State)

Sally Ride--astronaut

Joan Rivers--comedienne

Diane Sawyer--broadcast journalist

Paul Simon--songwriter, singer

Steven Spielberg--filmmaker

Marty Shottenheimer--Coach of Kansas City Chiefs

Superman (Christopher Reeve)--journalist, superhero

Brandon Tartikoff--television executive

Clarence Thomas--U.S. Supreme Court Justice

Granhma Tinker--TV Executive and Producer

Harold Varmus--Nobel laureate in medicine, Director of National

Institutes of Health

Barbara Walters--broadcast journalist

Sigourney Weaver--actress

Pete Wilson--Governor of California

Bob Woodward--journalist, writer (All the President's Men)