It is a question that I get asked a lot: just what can you do with an English major? My answer: well, a lot of things. True, I want to be a teacher, the more "traditional" route (I am told), but there are a great number of opportunities for people who can write well, organize thoughts succinctly and cogently, and think critically about the outside world. These are qualities that often come with an English degree.
But now for something perhaps unexpected; that is, what I did with my English major over the summer. This summer I spent some of my time completing a LEEP Project at the Worcester Art Museum (WAM), crossing over the English major that I know so well with an art history focus that I knew nothing about.
I served as the Worcester Art Museum's Research & Writing Assistant for Educational Curriculum Guides. It was an opportunity that came to me via Clark’s Art History Department, though I found that my English major was very easy to carry over disciplines. Actually, it was essential, because of my limited experience in art history.
For WAM, I wrote a series of educational guides for the major galleries, to be used by visiting teachers and students. Before the project, teachers had no resources available to them on the Museum's website and only a few resources located inside permanent galleries. I researched, drafted, and wrote a series of targeted literature for teachers and their students to use while visiting the Museum. The guides allow students to have a deeper engagement with highlights of the collection. They provide students with images, discussion questions, and resource links so that they can better connect their content-area classrooms with art and art history.
For instance, one guide discusses Greek art with an emphasis on the literature of ancient Greece, including the early poet Sappho. Knowing that my research was interdisciplinary, I also wanted the guides to have an interdisciplinary emphasis.
Through my project, I was able to see the value of interdisciplinary study for the first time in my life because the project combined my interests in writing, photography/graphic design, education, and the arts. For example, I was often challenged at WAM not only to think about what I was writing, but also who I was writing for and why. I had to draw from English, education, art history, studio art, and philosophy classes. And the English major was the glue to hold everything together. My ability to write and think critically about what I read was invaluable to me while I was working. And as of a month ago, WAM published my fifteen-part curriculum guide series. The link is below!
Check out my summer work: http://www.worcesterart.org/education/school_programs.html and scroll to "Guides and Instruction Sheets". There are fifteen PDF links available to download, share, and read.