What Is an English Major Good For?

Short answer. Lots of things!

It’s been at least 6 weeks since my last blog post, and I realize that breaks nearly all the rules of blogging. But I didn’t learn that back when I was an English major.


Blogs didn’t exist then. To save you the unbearable laundry list of things that would come about and change the world that didn’t exist yet – especially, the reading and writing world – let’s just say it was 30 years ago when I was an English major.

Now I’ve just come across a column in the New York Times by Verlyn Klinkenborg called “The Decline and Fall of the English Major”, thanks to Peter Kim’s Being Peter Kim blog (such is the way the Web is weaved). Overall, college students majoring in the humanities are down, and the English major is one of the casualties. Sad to hear, because if I had to do things over again, I can’t think of anything else I’d major in.

Studying English (and American) literature from Beowulf to “The Babysitter” taught me not only critical thinking, but how to think on my feet. My career began, just weeks after getting my B.A., as a lowly editorial assistant for a top-tier publishing company, manually copying corrections with a red pencil from one set of galleys to another. Within two years I’d moved to another publishing house that was just beginning to explore the cost-effectiveness of desktop publishing. I did freelance copy editing and proofreading, picked up occasional jobs as a graphic artist and designer, wrote freelance, learned to use a digital camera and followed that skill into the last days of traditional public relations as it morphed into social media. What a ride it’s been.

And will continue to be.

A large part of my work over the past several years has been being the Media Coordinator for Out4Immigration. When I wrote the words “Supreme Court’s DOMA Decision Grants Same-Sex Binational Couples Federal Immigration Rights” last month, I had successfully come to the end of  a 7-year personal and professional battle. Along with some 40,000 other same-sex binational couples, my Australian wife and I would now be eligible for a marriage-based green card. We would no longer be faced with the threat that if Viki lost her job, we would be forced to leave San Francisco for Sydney.

As an English major there is no shortage of metaphors for this moment. I am turning the page. Starting a new chapter at KazzaDrask Media.

I’m not sure exactly what that will be, but I have been here before. Part of thinking on my feet has always meant that when I land, I am still on my feet – I’m an English major and we are good for lots of things.