Why Study English?

How to squish what it means to study English into one short line? Try this on: To study English is to study language’s fundamental role in making the world and our experience of it. Why do it at SFU? That’s easier. To study with us is to share the classroom with a faculty that has won more teaching awards than any department at SFU, all while authoring and editing a disproportionate number of scholarly books and articles, not to mention award-winning fiction, poetry, and drama. In all, to study English at SFU is to study with a faculty that punches far above its weight. Then there’s the fact that to study English at SFU is to work alongside insatiably curious, whip-smart students—students who see things in language most people miss entirely, students who do things with language most people didn’t even know could be done.

That last point is particularly important right now. English majors and minors are not scared of language. That fact can and does pay dividends. “Out there” in the world, people will pay you to do the things that they can’t do or that they are scared of doing—and most people are terrified of writing. More are up to the task of reading critically, but typically not with the command a student of English wields. Don’t get me wrong: our department is not a job-training site. That doesn’t mean, however, that people don’t get jobs with training in English. Just the opposite. Anyone who tells you otherwise doesn’t know what English students have done and can do. There are PhDs, obviously, but there are also CEOs and even PMs—to study English is not to close off opportunity but to open it. Indeed, some of our own alum, including lawyers, professors, novelists, judges, social workers, teachers, marketers, editors, and publishers, are so eager to disabuse the myth of the starving English major/minor that they’ve banded together in something we call The English Network, a remarkable job and networking resource available only to SFU English students.

SFU English offers an embarrassment of riches: field schools in France, Italy, and the U.K.; certificates in creative writing, performance studies, and writing and rhetoric; joint majors with Communications, Humanities, French literature, History, and Gender, Sexuality, & Women’s Studies (with more in the works); ever-expanding co-op opportunities; a vibrant honours experience; and courses in everything from classical rhetoric to contemporary poetry, as you’ll see by flipping through our semester offerings.

If you’d like to know more, check out the links to the left, especially our news and social media hub, where you’ll see what we’re up to at this very moment. Also, come by my office (AQ 6120) or drop me an email (meverton@sfu.ca). I’m always ready to talk shop, because for me, talking shop invariably means talking books. Not much is better than that.

Sincerely,

Mike Everton
Undergraduate Chair