Major Spotlight: Palmer Haasch
Hometown: Omaha, NE
Why did you choose to major in English?
I chose to major in English fundamentally because I wanted to become a better writer and because I've always been attracted to excellent stories (I was a biology major my freshman year because I read an amazing book about smallpox). I knew that I wanted to write about literature and media, and majoring in English seemed to be the best way to do that.
"I think there's a very
narrow view of what
kind of people English
majors are and the
kinds of goals that
As of now, I'm intending to pursue a career in journalism with a particular focus on entertainment and internet culture. My studies in English have beefed up both my writing and analysis skills, helping me to land internships that cultivated my passion for entertainment and representation.
Are you pursuing any majors, minors, internships, or fields of interest outside your English major?
I'm pursuing a second major in French Studies and minors in Political Science and GLBT Studies. This summer, I was an editorial intern at Polygon, a Vox Media brand that covers video games, entertainment, and the culture surrounding them. Working at Polygon has helped to solidify my career plans—I want to work for a publication where I can write about anything ranging from cartoons to comic-cons to internet memes. Last summer, I interned as an entertainment media intern at GLAAD, the nation's leading LGBTQ media advocacy group, and I'm still involved with them as a campus ambassador.
What English course would you recommend for majors? For non-majors who want to take an English class?
For English majors, I would recommend any class that you can take with Professor Qadri Ismail. His "Modern Literary Criticism & Theory" provides an excellent foundation in the subject matter, and he's not afraid to drill you on concepts until you can prove that you can understand them. For non-majors, I'd recommend Senior Lecturer James Cihlar's "LGBTQ Literature: Then and Now" class. It's a great primer on LGBTQ writing, and he makes an effort to bring in poets such as Andrea Jenkins or Danez Smith to talk about their work.
What's your favorite piece of writing?
I wish I could give a really "English Major"-esque profound answer for this, but it's actually The Martian by Andy Weir. Science fiction is my favorite genre, and what I love about The Martian is that it's rooted in scientific fact and is the funniest, most harrowing book I've ever read. I have a copy with me whenever I move.