By Kaitlyn Dang
Jennings Dixon always knew that he loved reading and writing; it was always his thing. When he took an English and Comparative Literature creative writing course his first year, he realized that the ECL major was the right place for him.
Jennings is a senior double major in political science and English and Comparative Literature, two majors he considers ”the perfect blend” to prepare him for law school.
At first, reading academic political science articles or Shakespearean plays can be daunting, but Jennings feels that his double major prepared him for the task. Through the Department of English and Comparative Literature, Jennings not only learned how to critically analyze and interpret texts, but he also learned that literary works “don’t exist in a vacuum”— they “connect” and branch out to so many other facets of life. Jennings’ political science classes provided a new perspective for him to contextualize the texts through, deepening his understanding. At the same time, his ECL classes provided a new viewpoint on his political science courses.
In his political science courses, Jennings said he learns a lot about foreign affairs and the influence of dictatorships in countries around the world, making him think about their actions theoretically and analytically. At the same time, in his ECL courses, he read pieces like Hamlet or Macbeth, where he considered the same issues from a more psychoanalytic angle and looked at the humanity of the characters.
“Political science can be very technical; you learn a lot of different theories. English really injects that humanity into it … They complement each other really well,” he said.
Reflecting on his time in ECL, he considers Stephanie Griest’s creative nonfiction course on memoirs one of the most influential he has taken. In this class, he was able to do a project on his grandmother and the influence of the hardships she had to endure that passed down intergenerational trauma. The 20-page long piece was “one of the most rewarding projects” that he got to do and captures the interdisciplinary connections between his majors, as he considered the role of the government in intergenerational trauma, since the government had seized his grandmother’s family farm.
Doubling up allowed him to take two different perspectives: the technical and theoretical views from political science and “the ethical and moral” views from ECL.
Jennings’s advice to those thinking about majoring in ECL is that not only do you learn valuable skills like reading, writing, and analyzing, but you also get to relate and understand more of humanity. If that’s what you’re interested in, then the ECL is “the perfect place to learn all of that,” says Jennings.