Why English?

Past Events (Jan 2014)

UMF Answers the Question “Why English?” with Three-Day Farmington Forum Series, Jan 29-31

Press Release (UMF Media Relations)

FARMINGTON, ME (January 22, 2014)—In continuing tribute to the University of Maine at Farmington’s distinguished academic life over 150 years, the University proudly presents “Why English?” a three-day celebration of English at UMF.

The third academic discipline in the 2013-14 Farmington Forum Series, “Why English?” explores, through a host of engaging events, how studying literature enriches peoples’ lives. Events take place from Wed., Jan. 29, through Fri., Jan. 31, and are free and open to the public, unless otherwise noted.

Featured is Sir Christopher Ricks, a British literary critic and scholar, who will present the keynote address, entitled “More Than One Waste Land.” Ricks is Warren Professor of the Humanities and co-director of the Editorial Institute at Boston University. Previously, he was professor of English at the University of Bristol and at Cambridge. He was the Professor of Poetry at the University of Oxford from 2004-2009. A member of the Association of Literary Scholars, Critics and Writers, he is a frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books and the Times Literary Supplement.

In addition, notable writers Adelle Waldman and Evan Hughes will offer a “Literature for a Living” workshop and readings from their works. Waldman’s recent book, “The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.,” debuted this past summer to exceptional reviews. It has been called one of 2013’s best books by The New Yorker, The National Post, Slate and many others. It was named a New York Times Editor’s Choice and a Notable Book by the Washington Post. Waldman’s writings have appeared in the New York Times Book Review, The Wall Street Journal and other publications.

Hughes tells Brooklyn’s story through the eyes of its greatest storytellers with his 2011 book, “Literary Brooklyn: The Writers of Brooklyn and the Story of American City Life.” A Fort Greene-based critic and journalist, he has written articles about literature for such publications as The New York Review of Books, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, n + 1 and the London Review of Books.

Complete schedule of events in the “Why English” series:

Wednesday, Jan. 29

Faculty Roundtable on T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land”
11:45 a.m., Performance Space, Emery Community Arts Center

Reading Methodologies: Approaches to T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land”
This panel, which will include papers by students and faculty, will explore a range of methodological approaches to Eliot’s “The Waste Land.” Daniel P. Gunn, UMF interim provost and vice president for academic affairs will respond.
2:30 p.m., Performance Space, Emery Community Arts Center

A Collaborative Performance of T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land”
7:30 p.m., Performance Space, Emery Community Arts Center

Thursday, Jan. 30

Literature for a Living workshop
Interactive workshop with notable writers Adelle Waldman and Evan Hughes
2:25 p.m., , The Landing, UMF Olsen Student Center

Reading by Adelle Waldman and Evan Hughes
7:30 p.m., The Landing, UMF Olsen Student Center

Friday, Jan. 31

Keynote Address “More Than One Waste Land” with Sir Christopher Ricks—British literary critic and scholar
11:45 a.m., Lincoln Auditorium, UMF Roberts Learning Center

“What Can You Do with an English Major?”
UMF alumni in fields such as broadcasting, education, law and graphic design discuss how they navigated the transition from UMF to their current professional lives.
2:20 p.m., Performance Space, Emery Community Arts Center

“Pursuing an Academic Career in English”
UMF alumni currently in Ph.D. programs in English describe their experience.
3:30 p.m., Performance Space, Emery Community Arts Center

English Alumni Reception
5-7 p.m., UMF President’s House. Open to UMF alumni.

Throughout the year, UMF’s Farmington Forum Series will feature a host of special events in the six key academic disciplines of education, psychology, English, biology, mathematics and history. Events will include in-depth lectures by visiting scholars, film and research presentations, art exhibits, panel discussions and alumni receptions.

The “Why English?” Farmington Forum Series is sponsored by the UMF Department of English.

For additional details, please visit the calendar of events on the UMF 150th Anniversary website at http://150.umf.maine.edu/.

UMF’s Sesquicentennial Celebration is supported in part by the generous donations of area businesses and organizations including Franklin Savings Bank, at the Doctorate Level; Sunday River, at the Master’s Level; and Hight Chevrolet Buick GMC, Kyes Insurance, Shiretown Insurance Agency, University Credit Union and Unity Foundation at the Bachelor’s Level.

Liberal Arts Majors: Long-Term Prospects

From the Chronicle of Higher Education (click on the excerpts to go to the full article):

Skepticism over the value of a college degree, especially one in the liberal arts, is common these days. Rising college prices, increasing levels of student debt, and a still weak job market all heighten doubts. Return on investment has become a popular research question, and a higher-education association released on Wednesday a report arguing that a liberal-arts major is a worthwhile choice.

While humanities and social-science majors started out near the bottom of all college graduates in terms of salary, the report says, older people who majored in those fields—many of whom also held graduate degrees—outearned their peers who’d picked professional and pre-professional majors.

Right out of college, graduates in humanities and social science made, on average, $26,271 in 2010 and 2011, a bit more than those in science and mathematics but less than those in engineering and in professional and pre-professional fields, according to the report. But at their peak earning ages, 56 to 60, humanities and social-science majors earned $66,185, putting them some $2,000 ahead of professional and pre-professional majors in the same age bracket.

One big reason that older humanities and social-science majors outearn professional majors is that about 40 percent of people in the former group also hold a graduate degree. In fact, the report says, earning a graduate degree on top of a humanities or social-science undergraduate major corresponds with a median annual earnings rise of $19,550. Excluding the graduate-degree holders, humanities and social-science majors earned less than professional and pre-professional majors.

Sir Christopher Ricks at UMF

As part of the Why English? Farmington Forum, Professor Sir Christopher Ricks spoke on T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land on Friday, January 31, in Lincoln Auditorium on the UMF campus.

Why English? (past event)

Hughes & Waldman