Making a Case for the Multi-Major

by Austin Shepard Woodruff
contributor to the Underground

Pick a major, follow the path set out ahead, and slowly tick off the requirements class by class. For most students, one major is more than enough to fill up the weeks of the quarter, and especially for programs that demand a student’s presence, attention, energy, and time outside the classroom, this single-major style of learning becomes a central focus in a student’s life. This style is often layered with repetition of a certain skill set. Upon graduation, students may have tendencies to categorize knowledge in particular ways rooted in place for the rest of their learning processes. ‘One major, one minor’ becomes a degree whose specificity marks its limitations. But this is only one way to approach an education. I believe that learning in formal educational settings is altogether more effective, more productive, and more powerful when students pursue more than one field of study.

I study literature and philosophy here at DePaul University and can vouch for the success of applying skills learned in literature classes to demands in philosophy classes. In the Humanities, especially, the skills one develops in a certain field are applicable to other fields. As a literature major, I learn to critically analyze literary texts and the construction of cultural identities; as a philosophy major I learn to engage with philosophical texts to grasp the frameworks of cultural foundations. Language and truth are as intertwined as literature and philosophy. One is the organ that functions; the other is the expression, the representation, of that function. Philosophy and literature affect one another—indeed they perpetuate one another, and frequently their respective grammars overlap.

The literature major develops a skill set that prepares a student for critical analysis; applying this faculty to other areas of learning becomes immediate and instinctual. The literature program, and other programs in the English Department, offers space for students to navigate their thought processes and explain themselves clearly in relation to specific cultural contexts. These are necessary talents for further studies and for success beyond the undergraduate degree. To study “literature” without “philosophy” may thwart the realization of potentially harmonious paths to knowledge. This is true of not only the pairing of philosophy and literature, but of all multi-majors. The multi-major shapes meaning and understanding in ways that create opportunity for further learning. Intersecting majors create a dynamic learning experience that goes beyond the usual narrow vision for opportunity in education.

Real learning happens in surpassing boundaries and overcoming limits, be they at the edge of epistemological frameworks or embedded in the very structure of belief. Ask of your discipline: what holds you? What do you hold? Ask yourself: how should we learn? How should I learn? While it is valuable to appreciate institutional strategies for organization of knowledge, so too is the questioning and reinvention of those strategies for every student.  Does ‘one major, one minor’ leave room for growth? Does it instill a sense of wonder for the multiplicity of the world? Does it inspire a thirst for meaning that defies enclosure? Readers should meditate on their choice of study carefully, especially at the beginning of every quarter and every school year. We should make a point to consider how we are learning and what we can do differently to appreciate the many changing modes of discovery in our world. Pursuing more than one major may be the first step.

Write for the Underground!

hands-coffee-cup-appleCalling all DePaul English majors! Are you looking for more ways to get your writing out there? Do you enjoy attending literary events?

The Underground is looking for student contributors to write short, informal articles for the website. Gain writing experience, build your resume, and get involved in the literary community at DePaul and beyond.

The pieces would be 1,200 words or less. We are open to interviews, event recaps, and any noteworthy topics in keeping with the Underground’s mission statement.

If you are interested in writing for the Underground, email Underground editor Anne Terashima at aterashi@depaul.edu. Anne will then email you each Monday with a list of possible article topics. If you see one that interests you, let her know by 10 a.m. Tuesday. Turnaround time is 1-3 days, depending on the topic.

Here is a sample of what next Monday’s topics email will include:

If you have an idea that is not listed, please pitch it to aterashi@depaul.edu.

We look forward to working with you!

Underground Blog Seeking Writers

The Underground blog has a new editor for the spring quarter and is looking to end the school year with a bang. Lauren Mietelski is a graduate student in DePaul’s MAE program. She is very excited to be managing the blog and to be working with undergraduate writers of all experience levels and interests. She is also open to changes and collaboration.  Lauren is also open to taking on undergraduate copy editors to review and proof read student work before it gets published on the blog.

Anyone interested in writing for The Underground is welcome to come to our first official meeting of the spring quarter on Wednesday, April 16th in Arts and Letters English office, 210. The meeting will start at 5:00 pm and last approximately 25-30 minutes. Meet by the cubicle in the front of the office, and the meeting will move from there. If anyone is interested who cannot attend the meeting, please email Lauren at lmietels@depaul.edu to set up an individual meeting at another time. You can also email her with any questions or ideas.

There are many options for undergraduate writers on the blog. Here are some ideas of what we can publish.  If you have any ideas that are not up here, please bring them with you to the meeting!

PUBLISHING IDEAS:

  • Continue or start up your own weekly or monthly column (topic of your choice–or change topics every time)
  • Original poetry or short stories
  • Reviews (movie, book, television show, theatre, music)
  • Undergraduate tips for survival
  • other ideas????

 

Undergraduates: venture UNDERGROUND with us!

The leaves are falling, the air is crisp, and everywhere you go here on campus you hear the familiar sound of students flipping through syllabi and wondering just how they are going to finish all that work before finals roll around….

ID-100148176Ah, yes, the Autumn quarter is in full swing, and here at The Underground that can only mean one thing–it’s time to put together our undergraduate writing staff for the 2013-2014 academic year. If you are an undergraduate English major, minor, or are just interested in all things literary, then we want you on our team!

As a staff member for The Underground, you will get the chance to….

  • Cover English department events, visiting author readings, conferences, and other literary goings-on here at DePaul and across Chicagoland
  • Review new books, films, and music that would be of interest to DePaul English majors and other students interested in writing, literature, and the humanities
  • Interview faculty, alumni, and persons of interest for featured profiles
  • Have your writing featured on our popular newsletter/blog
  • Gain some valuable experience creating written content for the web and working under deadlines
  • Network with other students interested in the field of English

Interested students should contact editor Melissa Culbertson at Mculber1@depaul.edu by October 1. Please include a short application letter describing your qualifications, writing experience, interests, an idea of what kind of time commitment you will be willing to put in as a part of our staff, and, very importantly, your vision for The Underground. 

New staff members will be notified via email by Friday, October 4. We look forward to an exciting year!