English PhD student
Grad Year: 2007
A new look at a Career in English
When I entered the University of Michigan as a freshman, I had what I thought at the time was a fool-proof plan for the future. Although I had always loved reading the classics and had excelled in literature and composition courses throughout high school, the study of English seemed to me just a means to an end, a major that I could rise to the top of, achieve a high GPA in, and that would eventually get me into an Ivy League law school. I was more or less following a pre-law path via an English-Political Science double major, even joining a pre-law coed fraternity, until the second semester of my sophomore year when I took a class in Medieval and Early Modern Literature with Professor Catherine Sanok and a survey of personal and fictional narratives with Professor Ralph Williams. Not only was the course work challenging and exciting, re-contextualizing and juxtaposing texts that I had long been familiar with and painting them in new and intriguing lights, but it was also in these seminars that I came to recognize my gravitation to books as not just an idle hobby or a fast-pass to law school, but as a valid career choice.
Against the advice of my practical-minded peers, I made the transition from a law-school bound political science major to an Honors English student. Completing a seminar class focusing on the social, political, and cultural significance of the highly popularized works of Jane Austen with Professor Adela Pinch during my junior year, I narrowed my field of study from the endless wealth of classic and contemporary literature to that which is characteristic of the Victorian and Romantic Era in Great Britain and found a topic that would form the basis of my senior thesis. While writing my thesis under the guidance of Professor Pinch, and after numerous meetings with faculty members and former professors, I decided to apply to graduate school in English.
Following my passion
A year after graduation, I have just received my Master’s Degree in Literary Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and am preparing to begin my first semester of PhD work and teaching. As I look forward to teaching my own literature section next fall, I cannot help but reflect upon the dedicated professors and GSI’s I had as an undergraduate. Although the thesis writing process fueled my desire to pursue academic research, it was ultimately my desire to teach that led me to graduate studies. I was inspired to teach at the collegiate level by my professors at U of M, in particular Professor John Whittier-Ferguson who still continues to mentor me even after graduation. Although many of my friends, some of whom were English majors, are currently entering their second year at top law schools, I still never regret following my passion.
Faith Adler Brown, Erin Crowley, Dory Gannes, Aric Knuth, Lawrence Landman, Katherine MacNair, Howard Markel, MD, PhD, Sarah Marwil Lamstein, Kelly O’Connor McNees, Amanda Richardson, Michael Richman, Melissa Shook, Rebecca Soares, Kurt Taroff, Lisa Vandenbossche, Lee Woldenberg, Anne Wyman, Neil Rao
Related Career FieldsEducation, Post-Graduate Education