Josie Green: Why English?

I’ve never considered a different major for college. Since middle school, I’ve figured I would continue down the path of studying English. Though I won’t say there aren’t other majors I can’t complete, no other major feels right, feels like me

One of the few consistent interests in my life has been literature, both in school and beyond. I vividly remember reading Divergent by Veronica Roth in the sixth grade and being captivated by the story. This was the first instance where I read a story with characters I cared about in an environment that was so like mine in terms of societal interactions yet so different in structure. It was the first instance of me connecting with a story in a way that wasn’t academic. 

The upsetting ending of the series– an ending that made no sense to me based on the main character’s characterization–set off my interest in analyzing books and writing choices. I brainstormed alternative endings that could’ve fit the storyline, and my interest in critiquing stories has continued over the years. 

That same year, I felt a deep connection with books I was reading in my Language Arts class, such as Little Women by Louisa May Alcott and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. The classic genre was entirely new to me, but I fell in love with the strong female characters and the ways they fought back against society. 

In high school, I started learning how those books I loved were crafted; how authors used their characters and writing techniques to create stories with meaningful plots and purposeful themes, such as Little Women pioneering strong heroines exposing misogyny. 

My senior year, I read Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. I had so much fun picking apart of the characters and deciding how they functioned in the story in terms of symbolism; how the main character, Victor Frankenstein, represented the ugly and hateful aspect of humanity.

With all of these novels, I was deconstructing the story, picking at the author’s writing choices and figuring out how they played into the story as a whole.

My interest in thinking about purposeful writing culminated in me joining my high school’s newspaper. As the Co-Editor-in-Chief, I spent much of my time doing final revisions on articles before they were approved for publication. Here is where I discovered my passion for editing, specifically. 

I loved breaking down the articles, looking at them from a structural standpoint and at the sentence level. Whereas I had been looking at stories from a structure standpoint in school, in journalism, I learned to adore picking apart specific word choice and sentence structure, figuring out optimal ways to tell stories while also helping the reporter stay true to their voice. 

Though I had no interest in pursuing journalism after high school– frankly, that scrutinized and politicized world scares me– I knew I wanted to leave my mark on the world through my writing abilities. I knew that I didn’t want to give up my passion for literature. I wanted to continue reading and writing and working to polish the skills I had been building throughout high school. 

I decided that majoring in English Literature would allow me to continue working on and with the elements of literature I love. Journalism was fun in high school, reporting on interesting events or students, but I am drawn more to the creative element of English Literature that I’m afraid journalism will not allow me the freedom to dabble in. 

The few English courses that I have taken at Ohio Wesleyan have only fueled my interest in continuing to study English at a higher level. I find myself enamored by the literature and authors I am being exposed to and drawn in by the conversations surrounding the pieces I’m reading. For example, the class “Exploring Creative Writing” offered by Professor Amy Butcher has offered me a fine balance between reading and discussing engaging stories and breaking down the story elements to apply them to my creative writing, which is a branch of English I have always been intrigued by but never had the motivation to explore. Until now. 

I look forward to seeing what studying English at Ohio Wesleyan will expose me to, how it will challenge me and force me to grow as both a reader and writer. I’m not sure what career path I’d like to pursue, but I know I want to continue reading and writing in my daily life whether I pursue it as a job in publishing or continue it as a hobby I indulge in on the sidelines of whatever career path I take.

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