Thursday, January 8, 2015

English and History: A Double Major Delights in Both Subjects

By Emily Cardwell

When I began my college search in my sophomore year of high school, I knew that I wanted to major in English—I’ve always loved books, and the thought of spending my college days reading and discussing literature was very appealing. After taking and enjoying AP Government, I began to consider the possibility of a double major in English and political science. I ultimately decided to pursue a degree in English and political science and arrived at Ashland with the assumption that I would have these majors for the duration of my college career. As my first semester at Ashland progressed, I knew that choosing English had been a great decision—I loved my English class and became even more aware of my love for literature. I also had two history classes on my schedule for that first semester and as I studied the earliest days of both the United States and western civilization as a whole, I realized that history would be a better fit for my second major.

Now, having been an English and history major for two semesters, I can see how well these majors complement one another. In my English classes, I learn about major ideas of a particular time period, and in my history classes, I am able to see how these ideas were translated into action by notable historical figures. Another wonderful part of having these majors is that history is brought into discussions in my English classes and vice versa, presenting the opportunity to learn about these topics from another angle. For example, in Eighteenth-Century British Literature, we spent time learning about the politics and major events of the time period, while in a history class about Thomas Jefferson, we learned that Jefferson’s favorite novel was Tristram Shandy and examined a list of works he recommended. Not only has my double major experience been interesting, it’s also been incredibly useful—the analytical skills that I have learned from the English department have helped immensely when analyzing a primary document in a history class, and having historical context for a particular work allows me to better understand the times in which a particular work was published. I’ve had a tremendous experience with the English and history departments thus far and I can’t wait to see what the coming semester brings!