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The Decline And Fall Of The English Major

By Dr. Marciene Mattleman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Verlyn Klingenborg taught non- fiction writing at Yale where, in 1991, 165 students graduated with a B.A. in English Literature. But in 2012, there were only 62. In The New York Times, she laments the new and narrowing vocational emphasis that parents and students believe will get them good jobs.

However, they need to understand that English majors turn up in almost any field.. Klingenborg likens the humanities to standing on a ship moving with colleagues along the coastline of human experience. Instead, it seems like people have receded to the bowels of a ship from which they peer out at bits of the coastline. Professors must instill the gift of the humanities – clear thinking and a lifelong engagement with literature.

The author goes on to say that “no one has put a dollar sign on this type of literacy… those who possess it know it’s a rare and precious inheritance.”

Decades ago I read The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann. I compare it to life all the time.

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