The Value of Literary Studies and the Humanities | Department of English

The Value of Literary Studies and the Humanities

American Academy of Arts and Sciences, "The Heart of the Matter: The Humanities and Social Sciences for a Vibrant, Competitive, and Secure Nation" (2013)

excerpt: "As we strive to create a more civil public discourse, a more adaptable and creative workforce, and a more secure nation, the humanities and social sciences are the heart of the matter, the keeper of the republic--a source of national memory and civic vigor, cultural understanding and communication, individual fulfillment and the ideals we hold in common."

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Steve Strauss, "Why I Hire English Majors" (Huffington Post, 6/23/2013)

excerpt: "I think what I appreciate most about English majors is that they are taught to think critically, and that is exactly what I want in my business. Busy with a start-up, a new book to finish, speeches, and running my regular business to boot, what I need is to be able to give someone an assignment and have them do it. Period. That is exactly what I get from the English majors. They know how to think, to think for themselves, and how to analyze a problem. Business majors are fine, but they are preoccupied with theory, proving themselves, and doing it 'right.' But the English majors are used to getting a tough assignment, figuring it out, and getting it done, (usually) on time."

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Fareed Zakaria, In Defense of a Liberal Education (Norton, 2016)

excerpt: "What a liberal education at its best does… is to allow people to range widely, to read widely, to explore their passions. Let one interest lead to another and on and on. I think that kind of breadth and the ability to feed your curiosity and indulge is incredibly important. It's what, now in the corporate world, one would call synergy, or out of the box thinking, or the intersection of disciplines. This has always been a central part of what a liberal education has meant."

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Nicholas Bakalar, "Read Books, Live Longer?" (New York Times, Aug. 3, 2016)

excerpt: "Compared with those who did not read books, those who read for up to three and a half hours a week were 17 percent less likely to die over 12 years of follow-up, and those who read more than that were 23 percent less likely to die. Book readers lived an average of almost two years longer than those who did not read at all."

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Daniel Victor, "No, the Internet Has Not Killed the Printed Book. Most People Still Prefer Them" (New York Times, Sept. 2, 2016)

excerpt: "Sixty-five percent of adults in the United States said they had read a printed book in the past year, the same percentage that said so in 2012. When you add in ebooks and audiobooks, the number that said they had read a book in printed or electronic format in the past 12 months rose to 73 percent, compared with 74 percent in 2012."

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Steven Pearlstein, "Meet the parents who won't let their children study literature" (Washington Post, Sept. 2, 2016)

excerpt: "In today's fast-changing global economy, the most successful enterprises aren't looking for workers who know a lot about only one thing. They are seeking employees who are nimble, curious and innovative. The work done by lower-level accountants, computer programmers, engineers, lawyers and financial analysts is already being outsourced to India and the Philippines; soon it will be done by computers. The good jobs of the future will go to those who can collaborate widely, think broadly and challenge conventional wisdom -- precisely the capacities that a liberal arts education is meant to develop."

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Fareed Zakaria , "Why America's obsession with STEM education is dangerous" (Washington Post March 26, 2015)

excerpt: "Innovation is not simply a technical matter but rather one of understanding how people and societies work, what they need and want. America will not dominate the 21st century by making cheaper computer chips but instead by constantly reimagining how computers and other new technologies interact with human beings."

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Loretta Jackson-Hayes, "We don't need more STEM majors. We need more STEM majors with liberal arts training" (Washington Post, Feb. 18, 2015)

excerpt: "Employers in every sector continue to scoop up my students because of their ability to apply cross-disciplinary thinking to an incredibly complex world. They like my chemistry grads because not only can they find their way around a laboratory, but they're also nimble thinkers who know to consider chemistry's impact on society and the environment. Some medical schools have also caught on to this. The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine has been admitting an increasing number of applicants with backgrounds in the humanities for the past 20 years."

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The Association of American Colleges and Universities, "It Takes More than a Major: Employer Priorities for College Learning and Student Success" (April 10, 2013)

excerpt: "Nearly all [employers] surveyed (93%) agree, 'a candidate's demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than their undegraduate major.'… More than nine in ten of those surveyed say it is important that those they hire demonstrate ethical judgment and integrity; intercultural skills; and the capacity for continued new learning."

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Peter Mandler, "The Rise of the Humanities"

excerpt: "[R]elative to business, both the sciences and the humanities have fallen behind since 1971, and the sciences much further. Since the 1980s, however, the gap between the humanities and business has, in fact, shrunk, while the gap between the sciences and business continued to grow. And, very importantly, the rapid expansion of higher education in the world over the past couple of generations means that, in absolute numbers, more people are studying the humanities than ever before. The question is why humanists have not been able or willing to recognise their own sustained success."

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