A video promoting the Department of English was in production last spring. The video is the first of its kind for our department and features testimonies from several undergraduate students who are currently majoring in English and studying in the department. Before the video’s production last spring, I sat down with Peyton Moss, Everett Secor, Leslie Leonard, Elizabeth Kierman, and Katherine Grandy to discuss what we can expect from the video. View the video here or on the Department of English Facebook page.
What do you plan to talk about in the promotional video for the Department of English?
Peyton: Mainly, I hope to discuss the positive influence the department has had on me. Our department’s faculty has always been so supportive and kind. It’s easy at a university of this size to fall through the cracks and feel like a nobody, but I’ve never felt that way in any of my English classes. The faculty members in the Department of English do really want their students to succeed, and that’s been demonstrated to me time and time again over these past few years. I also hope to discuss the support and the opportunities the department has offered me. I received a very generous scholarship through the department my junior year, and I’ve been able to attend the Sigma Tau Delta national convention for two years in a row at no cost to me. Also, the students I’ve made friends with who are in the department are fantastic, and I think that’s worth mentioning as well.
Everett: I plan to talk about how my English professors helped me find my voice through writing Freshman and Sophomore year when I never thought I would be an English major and then continued to challenge me during the next two years. English classes allowed me to communicate about topics I was most passionate about and gave me skills I plan to use for the rest of my life. Both the faculty and my peers in the department have been the highlight of my time at UA and have made me feel like I belong in such a massive university where many students struggle to find their place.
Leslie: For the video, I hope to touch on the department’s various events and opportunities for students of English. The Department of English has a large support system for its students and boasts numerous events and workshops throughout each year. For instance, the Department of English hosts a multitude of different speakers to present on specific topics throughout the semester in Morgan Hall, produces the Scarlet Newsletter and also works with the Literacy Council of West Alabama to provide internships to students and important mentoring services to Tuscaloosa.
Elizabeth: I’ll probably discuss why I chose to major in English, what has been my favorite class or professor, or why I think our English Department is special.
Katherine: I guess just the ways that the department had impacted my time at Alabama. I have loved the program since my very first class and I knew it was the perfect major for me.
What do you hope to achieve with the video?
Peyton: I hope that by sharing my own positive experience as an English major, here at UA, current and future students will seriously consider a degree in English. Students today are so often encouraged to choose a major that will get them a job, whether or not it’s something they actually enjoy. But the critical thinking skills you acquire as an English major are invaluable across all fields of work, and I hope to prove to students the tremendous worth of a degree in English.
Everett: I hope to increase awareness about how excellent the teachers and the classes are in the program, and how many different ways studying English can benefit students. I think many people aren’t aware how highly esteemed groups like UA’s English Honors Society and Creative Writing program are and how successful many of the department’s students become due to the wonderful instruction they receive here.
Leslie: I hope the video shows the different services that the Department of English provides to its students, the campus, and the community. I hope it inspires students to become more involved within the department, and hopefully, it will shed new light on the department and inform students about the many opportunities available.
Elizabeth: I hope I am able to contribute in some meaningful way that will both help the department recruit students and help prospective students see why we have a great department.
Katherine: I hope that prospective students will see how fun and fulfilling being a part of the Department of English can be.
How do you think the video will benefit the Department of English?
Peyton: I think that the video will offer more exposure for the department and drum up more interest for it as well. I also think that the video will help to show the wide range of interests that the faculty and students in the Department of English have–from Renaissance literature to postmodernism to all our creative writing offerings, and everything in between, which I think many students may not be aware of.
Everett: I think the project could potentially draw in a new class of outstanding English students and growth in enrollment would be a big positive step for the department. It may also raise support for the department in The University of Alabama and the College of Arts and Sciences communities both with administration and alumni. English may not be as exciting or profitable when compared to departments like Chemistry and Engineering, but people need to recognize that it is a valuable asset to this university.
Leslie: Informing current and prospective students. about the events and opportunities offered within the department, will garner interest in the program and inspire students to become more involved in department activities. It will also inspire students to expand existing programs or create their own based on shared interests.
Elizabeth: As far as I know, I don’t think the department has a recruitment video, or at least I don’t remember seeing one when I was considering the major. Thus, I think it will help students considering majoring in English at UA to get an insider perspective on the many benefits of UA’s English Department and allow students to understand how flexible the department is in terms of classes and future job prospects. I know I didn’t initially plan on majoring in English until I arrived at UA and did some research, so I think the video will be a beneficial recruitment tool for the department when students are researching schools or majors.
Katherine: Hopefully it will attract more students to the major.
Do you think the video will be a success? Why or why not?
Peyton: I do think the video will be a success, because I think it will shed such a positive light on our department and all of the people in it.
Everett: I believe so. Even if it encourages just a few students to explore English Studies, or shows administrators how much the current students value the department, it will have a positive effect.
Leslie: Absolutely! I assume it will be uploaded onto university sites and the Department of English’s own website, so hopefully, visibility will be less of an issue. I think, on a campus as large as Alabama’s it’s easy for departments to become isolated or self- sustaining, and this video is a good way to let people know the sort of wonderful things that the Department of English does around campus and in Tuscaloosa.
Elizabeth: I hope it is a success. I think that giving students more information can only help the department recruit the best and brightest to the school.
Katherine: Yes, I’m sure it will because all of the students who I’ve been around seem to all love the department and I’m sure that will come through.
What do you think will be the most challenging part of the video?
Peyton: The biggest challenge I think we might encounter will be trying to fit everything we’d like to say into the limited time frame of the video. Personally, I’ve got so much I’d like to say during the video, but I’ll have to decide what’s the most important and sum it all up without being too vague.
Everett: It may be difficult to communicate to people why students feel studying English is a worthwhile and beneficial use of their education. Many people don’t realize that it involves so much more than just sitting around talking about old books. It requires an in-depth analysis of society, culture, people, and ideas and gives students the ability to understand so many other subjects. Any sort of writing, any sort of discussion, any sort of dialogue becomes so much each easier to access and absorb with the skills learned in English classes. In addition, the compositional side of English classes teaches students how to participate adeptly in these discussions and communicate their ideas and viewpoints to other people. It’s not only a major for the poets, the novelists, and the book worms, but for any creative and ambitious person looking to have a confident voice and thorough understanding about the things that matter to them. Many of the English faculty at UA understand and push this inventive application of the concepts they teach.
Leslie: I think visibility will be the biggest issue with this video. I’m interested to see what the department does with it. I assume it will be uploaded to the department’s website, but I can’t help but wonder if they are planning any other viewings or if the video will be publicized outside of the department in any way.
Elizabeth: I don’t know if I would say there is anything too challenging about the video at this point…maybe ask me after I’ve been interviewed, and I might have a good anecdote. Perhaps, if they ask me what I have really enjoyed in the major, it might be challenging to narrow down exactly one class or aspect of the department I want to talk about. I have had some great professors and classes over the past four years, so I might have trouble deciding what I think might be the most beneficial for prospective students to hear.