Literature, Step Aside

By: Shira Kramer  |  May 14, 2024

By Shira Kramer, Senior Opinions Editor and Social Media Manager

The Stern College English Department needs to stop grouping general subjects together. While in other colleges, students can declare a journalism major, Stern requires students interested in journalism to become English majors. From there, they can specialize in media studies and then add a concentration in journalism if they so desire.

This generalization of all English subjects into one singular major means that journalism majors must take literature and creative writing classes regardless of their interest in them. 

Shakespeare, Classics, Women’s Literature.

Those are just the few courses available in next semester’s English class selection. There is only one option for journalism majors: “Digital Journalism.” This means that while journalism students beg for additional opportunities for classes in their actual field, they are forced to learn about Shakespeare instead of reporting on him. 

Unfortunately, other than complaining, which many have tried to do, there isn’t much Stern students can do to create more journalism class offerings. These slim pickings are in direct correlation with the lack of journalism students at Stern College. In the current Spring 2024 journalism class, “Feature Writing,” there are nine students enrolled, not all of whom are journalism majors. 

Although these students get undivided attention and personalized feedback in this singular course, they spend most of their day focusing on literature. Journalism students who would love to spend full days on reporting, broadcasting, and photojournalism courses are instead forced to read old books and write 10 page essays. While taking a few literature classes makes sense, in YU, these literature classes wrongly occupy most of a journalism major’s college experience.

Additionally, due to the lack of interest in English literature classes, journalism students often find themselves declaring a second major or minor. While this may seem like an advantage to the college experience, students should be able to focus on their chosen major rather than declare a second major to get the full experience. 

Fellow English students and professors expect all English majors to have similar interests. However, journalism majors don’t necessarily want to read literature all day or write literary analysis. For their careers, they don’t have to. 

In high school, students are expected to take some classes that will not help them in their future. College is supposed to be different. The undergraduate experience is supposed to be about learning for a career. I can’t see how a random literature class about the Irish Renaissance or Women in Literature is helping a student’s career in broadcast journalism.

The English department at Stern College needs to learn that it’s not.