English Major Spotlight: Jackson Folstein

According to this English major, double majoring in history adds another layer to literature analysis
Head and torso image of person with short dark brown hair, amber-rimmed glasses, light skin, wearing greeen and blue scarf tucked into blue jacket, in front of expanse of snow

Year: Junior

Hometown: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Why did you choose to major in English?

Besides it being a family tradition to be an English major at the U (my sister was one too), I have always had a passion for reading. In fact, my parents used to have to tell my sister and me to put our books down and go outside as kids. As homework and extracurriculars took up more of my time in high school, I slowly drifted away from reading. But I fell back in love with the pastime after studying Hamlet and Beowulf in my senior year of high school. This experience, combined with my fantastic time in a Shakespeare course my freshman year, reopened my eyes to the joys of reading and analyzing texts. I knew the English major path was the right one for me!

What has been your favorite part of your experience in the department?

I took ENGL 4612 Old English this past fall with Professor Andrew Scheil, and it was great. Some may be turned away by the idea of learning to translate Old English, but it expanded my understanding of language as a whole and is the most intensive class I have taken at the U. Getting to dive deep into a text and analyze line by line what the author was doing is an incredibly rewarding experience.

Are you pursuing any majors, minors, internships, or interests outside your English major?

I am pursuing a second major in history. For me, these two fields go hand in hand in furthering my understanding of the other. So much of what I do as a history major is analyzing old texts and sources, which complements my study of literary analysis in the English department. Outside of academics, this liberal arts combination continues to grow my writing, communication, critical thinking, and general understanding of human patterns and themes. While I am not certain what career I want to pursue, the skills I continue to gain in these fields will certainly adapt well to any environment.

What is a favorite book you read for an English class?

I loved Vladimir Nabokov’s Pale Fire, which I read for ENGL 3001W Textual Analysis. I’m currently reading Hanif Abdurraqib’s They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us for ENGL 3061 Literature and Music, which is amazing so far.

What English course would you recommend for majors? For non-majors who want to take an English class?

Everyone, English majors and non-majors alike, should take ENGL 3071 The American Food Revolution in Literature and Television with Associate Professor Dan Philippon. His lectures were fascinating, incredibly insightful, and always entertaining. I’d also recommend any course with English Professor John Watkins, who taught a history course my freshman year. His lectures were wonderful, and his love and passion for English were infectious, even in a history course. 

What is your favorite thing about Pillsbury Hall?

The lack of bees is great! Besides that, the new lecture space on the fourth floor is a perfect study space.

What is something about the English department that most people wouldn’t know?

We tend to have smaller class sizes in the English department, so finding a course on a topic you’re interested in can be much more rewarding than the same course in a huge lecture.

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