Jacquelyn Dunn


Major/Minor: English/Interdisciplinary Humanities

You have been an IHUM TA for 6 semesters, what is it that drew you to the humanities?

Well, originally it was my major. I took IHUM 101 my first semester in college and fell in love with everything about it. After studying it for 3 years, I realized two things: 1) As much as I loved all of the humanities, literature was by far my favorite and 2) I wanted to study Medieval Literature, and the easiest way to do that would be to switch to English. However, the idea of leaving the rest of the humanities behind was unthinkable, so I made sure to TA for at least 1 IHUM class every semester. That way, I get to keep reviewing the things that I love and stay connected with the humanities department without filling up my transcript with classes that won’t help me graduate. It’s a great job and I’ve been really lucky to be doing it for so long!

What are your future plans/professional aspirations?

As of right now, I plan on graduating in August, taking a gap year, and then applying to graduate school in English. However, my plans always seem to be changing, and I’m up for anything life may bring after graduation. As long as I end up in a community of smart, engaged people who are trying to better themselves and the world around them, I’ll be happy.

What have you learned from your major?

This is a hard question, because I’ve learned so many things! Critical thinking skills, empathy, the minutia of MLA formatting… but probably, most importantly, I’ve learned to recognize my own prejudices and how to question my own assumptions. It can be really difficult to face your own culture and dissect its flaws, but I think it’s an important part of trying to become a better human. Questions can be really uncomfortable, but without them there is no progress. One of the hardest parts of constantly questioning is continuing to (or learning to) love and respect people in your life who aren’t willing to question their own prejudices and assumptions, but luckily the English major helps with that too! Great literature offers many examples of people who are frustratingly imperfect but ultimately admirable because everyone is worthy of love when viewed in their entirety. The stories I read are constantly reminding me that people themselves are stories and I owe them consideration and the benefit of the doubt.

What advice would you offer to a newly declared English major?

Take ENGL 198 right off the bat! I’m taking it now and it’s great, but taking it early can help you avoid a lot of misunderstandings and confusion about how the English department works and how to make it work for you. Also, read everything, especially in your intro classes. That may seem impossible at times, but a little sacrifice up front goes a long way towards making you a well-rounded, thoughtful, and interesting student and academic, and that is one of the most valuable things about being in this major. It takes a lot of work to join the conversation in English because there is so much to read, but it’s worth it!