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English Department

Sting was an English major. So were Mitt Romney, Clarence Thomas, Barbara Walters, and Steven Spielberg. Nobel Laureate in Medicine Harold Varmus got a B.A. in English from Amherst and an M.A. from Harvard before he defected to medical school. Why major in English? Isn’t it obvious: so you can do anything you can imagine, so you don’t shut down roads to be taken before they show up on your life’s map, so that every moment you will be a surprise to yourself and interesting to others, so that there will be no foregone conclusions in your life. The English major does not guarantee that the minute you step off the stage at commencement you will step into the career that will remunerate you generously for the rest of your life. We do promise that, having completed the English major at Vanderbilt you will be equipped to decide what is naïve and what is not in this promo copy, how your particular slot and moment in the human race got to the present, and what you can uniquely do to keep us from falling back into the darkness.