Is There an English Major in the House?


You need to improve your street cred after being seen in public with Cassandra Clare’s “Lady Midnight” for the second time this week.

Max Patten | Cavalier Daily

You’re in Clem. Minding your own business. Maybe sipping some Starbucks and struggling with your ENGL 3880 paper on “Tobacco Road” by Erskine Caldwell, because you don’t know how you’re supposed to talk about absurdism, abjection, existentialism and visuality in a coherent fashion. You hear a choking sound behind you. You turn curiously to see an unsuspecting first year gagging in a booth — they were absentmindedly chewing on their pencil eraser and watching The Office at the same time. A particularly spicy comment made them laugh, causing them to accidentally inhale their pencil eraser in the process! What do you do!?

“Help!” you cry. “Is there an EMT in the house?”

Someone useful quickly comes to their aid, deftly performing the heimlich maneuver and dislodging said eraser while also suggesting they try Parks and Rec, as it is obviously superior procrastination material. 


You’re on the Corner. Minding your own business. Maybe partaking in ritual weekend libations, or cramming in 1515 for that ENGL 3810 test on Monday, because you need to memorize 14 lines of modern lyric poetry for extra credit. You hum absentmindedly, rehearsing Edmund Spenser’s “Amoretti 45” when an unsuspecting second-year decides they can jump off the second floor of Trin. It’s not a pretty sight! What do you do?!

“Help!” you cry. “Is there a doctor in the house?”

Someone useful quickly comes to their aid, deftly splinting the broken ankle while dialing 911 and also offering them a bottle of cool, clear water.


You’re in class. Minding your own business. Maybe online shopping, because paying attention for 50 minutes of lecture is asking too much at this point. You are, of course, browsing the classics section of Barnes & Noble, because you’ve read too many young adult novels recently and want to feel a little more sophisticated when you walk around Grounds. Perhaps a Jane Austen will do … or, if you’re feeling particularly desperate, Faulkner. You need to improve your street cred after being seen in public with Cassandra Clare’s “Lady Midnight” for the second time this week (let’s be real, it’s a great book, but The Mortal Instruments is still way better).

You hear a loud beeping sound behind you, followed by a quiet yet colorful explicative.

An unsuspecting third-year has contracted a virus on their laptop! Loud Russian pours from their speakers, and they can’t make it stop. The screen is flashing different colors, and the device begins to vibrate uncontrollably! What do you do!?

“Help!” you cry. “Is there a CS major in the house?”

Someone useful quickly comes to their aid, deftly typing out some code (or whatever it is CS majors do), silencing the device while also suggesting they use a different site to illegally stream the newly released “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” (pronounced Grindelvald in the movie, much to your dismay).


You’re an English major. When in your life will someone ever shout dramatically, desperately, distraughtly, “Help! Is there an English major in the house?” 

*cue WIND to blow damsel’s hair away from their face*

*cue RAIN to mix with their tears*

*cue dramatic MUSIC, swelling with emotion and suspense*

*CUT to our hero, wearing a U.Va. Engineering School T-shirt, a dashing smile and glasses*

*Hero deftly SAVES THE DAY with a guaranteed $99,250 starting annual salary with full benefits and a golf cart to boot*


Sorry, I got carried away there. But you get my point. What are you good for? How will you be a useful, productive member of society? What can you possibly do with all the soft skills you’ve acquired in critical analysis, creative thinking, persuasiveness, communication, clarity, vocabulary and spelling?? Easy! Your skills are applicable in...

Journalism, law, publishing, teaching, medicine, fine arts, copywriting, entrepreneurship, editing, filmmaking, writing, marketing, government, translation, public relations, nonprofits, finance, technology, advertising, reporting, screenwriting, event planning, blogging, technical writing, SEO, research, creative writing, policy analysis, acting, sales, lobbying, investor relations, brand management, social media strategy, communications, grant writing, et cetera et cetera et cetera ad infinitum. 

Your possibilities are LITERALLY ENDLESS (it’s fine if you didn’t read the whole list, it only took me like an hour to come up with everything, it’s fine). My point is...

Don’t let anyone get you down for being an English major. You’ll take over the world one day, and have a blast doing it! Just take that metaphorical ice cream that is your major — or froyo, if that’s more your thing —  and smear it with sprinkles and chocolate syrup and gummy bears and whipped cream (all your interests and passions) and you’ll have a delicious ice cream sundae — or froyo delight, if that’s more your thing — that employers will be drooling over. So don’t sell yourself short! You have the potential to serve up some pretty delicious ice cream. 

This article is brought to you by the national EMAF — English Majors Anonymous Foundation.

Casey Breneman is a Humor Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at 

related stories