English Majors Study Creative Writing (or, How to Look Like an Idiot)


Apparently some people read “getting a PhD in English” as “getting a PhD in creative writing.” I find this hilarious because it demonstrates a profound ignorance of what studying English entails.

Things I don’t do as a PhD student in English (that is as a necessary part of getting my degree):
–Meet up for weekly book clubs
–Join critique groups
–Learn how to write fiction
–Read fiction and nothing else
–Make up imaginary interpretations for books so that I can sound smart

What I actually do:
–Read fiction with the intention of understanding its impact on culture (vice versa) or its critiques or its various other components, which are important as product of culture
–Read philosophy, theory, history, politics, science, and other types of texts which are relevant to a cultural understanding of literature (in other words, everything relevant to a particular field)
–Write essays which incorporate these elements as part of the same argument. (Basically, almost all English studies are Cultural studies these days.)
–Anything related to these topics and not related to writing fiction, creative non-fiction, or other forms of non-argumentative of writing.

Odd how different they are, no?

What would you add to the lists?

About the Author:

Shaun Duke is an aspiring writer, a reviewer, and an academic. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Digital Rhetoric and Writing at Bemidji State University. He received his PhD in English from the University of Florida and studies science fiction, postcolonialism, digital fan cultures, and digital rhetoric.

2 thoughts on “English Majors Study Creative Writing (or, How to Look Like an Idiot)

  1. I remember quite a few people off in the wild blue internet yonder though Liz Bourke's degree in Classics meant she studied classic works of literature, like Shakespeare and Tolstoy, for a living (and therefore, how could she *possibly* review genre fiction fairly.

    *Head. Meets. Desk.*

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