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Major of the Month: Ally Kann

Reading and traveling open up the world for this senior
November 22, 2017

Major of the Month Ally Kann

Major of the Month Ally Kann
English major Ally Kann studied Arabic in Morocco

Year: Senior
Hometown: Rochester, MN

Why did you choose to major in English?

Books have always my favorite tool in understanding the world around me. I've been an avid reader since elementary school, so when it became time to go to college and choose a major, I never hesitated committing to English. Discussing and analyzing literature (or any other medium) requires making connections to other texts, which has definitely made my world much larger.

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

Taking the Bodies and Machines class with Lecturer Chris Kamerbeek. Despite the title, we didn't solely focus on science fiction novels and films. We discussed other topics like early cinema and mental health that really changed the way that I think about social understandings of humanity.

"English majors aren't
just book snobs: we love
movies too! There are so
many literature classes
that incorporate film."

Are you pursuing any majors, minors, internships, or fields of interest outside your English major? How do you feel they interact with or enhance your study of English? 

Outside of the English department I am also pursuing a major in the Asian Languages and Literatures department with a focus in Arabic. I've taken a few Arabic Literature classes in the ALL department, which were a wonderful opportunity to combine my love of literature and my interests in learning about the Arab world. I am considering further pursuing studies in World Literature or Arabic Literature.

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

For English majors and non-English majors alike, I always recommend any class taught by Dr. Chris Kamerbeek. I've taken three classes with him: American Literature I, Music and Literature, and Bodies and Machines. He always has interesting material to discuss and also incorporates anything that may come up that week that relates to the class. For English majors, I would also recommend a film class with Professor Siobhan Craig. In fall 2015 I took the City as Star with her, and I got to watch so many great films. Dr. Craig chose such a perfect combination of classics and lesser-known movies that I always looked forward to class, despite it being four hours long!

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

English majors aren't just book snobs: we love movies too! At the end of pretty much every English class I've ever taken I always have a long list of random movies that were recommended by both the professor and other students. Also, there are so many literature classes that incorporate film. Almost every semester of my college career I've taken at least one class where I've had to watch movies. I've seen Blade Runner three times in class!

If you studied abroad, what did you take away from the experience?

I went to Morocco to study Arabic (although somehow most of the friends I made there study Comparative Literature...). My biggest takeaway is that the world is a larger place than I thought. Studying in Morocco was the first time I'd ever left the United States, and it was surreal traveling so far away from home. Actually being in a place is so much different than watching a movie or reading about it. In addition, I read a lot of books by Moroccan authors during my stay, which definitely helped me deepen my understanding of the country.

Best book you’ve read recently?

Beyond the Curve by Kōbō Abe, a collection of strange short stories that I found at the public library under a magical realism display.