Major Spotlight: Dylan Miettinen
Hometown: Omaha, NE
Why did you choose to major in English?
Since a young age, I've been drawn to storytelling. In preschool, I would line up all of my stuffed animals to read them children's books. I loved creative writing and joined my elementary school's newspaper staff in fourth grade. That love for reading and writing stuck with me throughout middle school and high school. While I can say that there hasn't been a stuffed animal reading circle in quite some time, my passion for storytelling remains.
"My English major side
has an undying love for
the Oxford comma that
my journalistic side is
What has been your favorite part of your experience in the department?
This department is filled with some of the most intelligent professors I've ever met. Their choices of literature and teaching styles only serve to deepen the love of reading and writing that English students feel. English department students are equally as impressive: they are passionate, hardworking, kind, and perceptive. It's difficult to take an English course and not be inspired by the people around you.
Are you pursuing any majors, minors, internships, or interests outside your English major?
Yes, I am! In addition to my English major, I'll be majoring in Journalism and Sociology of Law, Criminology, and Deviance. My English major side has an undying love for the Oxford comma that my journalistic side is constantly battling. But I think all of my majors inform one another. I've always loved storytelling: both fiction and non-fiction. My journalistic side pushes me to seek the truth, serve the public, and preserve an informed citizenry. The fact that I'm an English major helps me paint a scene in an article and write succinctly, without the need for major edits. In studying sociology, I have a greater understanding of how and why society plays out the way it does, which helps my journalism and my understanding of the context surrounding an author's life.
As far as internships go, I was an editor for the Odyssey Online, an online media platform, in my freshman year. Since then, I've held strategic communications internships with the Minnesota Media and Publishing Association, Hennepin County, and Ramsey County. Last summer, I worked as an intern on CNN's National Desk in Atlanta and have worked at The Minnesota Daily as a general assignment, campus activities and features reporter since 2018. [He is the newspaper's 2020-2021 Editor in Chief.]
What English course would you recommend for majors? For non-majors who want to take an English class?
For English majors, I would strongly recommend any course with Professor Qadri Ismail. I took his "Textual Analysis" course last year. To date, I don't think any professor I've had has challenged me or my ways of thinking quite as much. His teachings, though sometimes unorthodox, are revolutionary and transformative. For non-English majors, take "Contemporary Literary Nonfiction" with Assistant Professor Kathryn Nuernberger. The class' discussions and readings have stuck with me for years. You know those classes in which you love the required books so much you choose not to return them at the end of the semester? This is one of those classes.
What is something about the English department that most people wouldn’t know?
I come at English from a journalistic standpoint. The texts we read are, on the one hand, art forms: they can be beautiful and sentimental, horrifying, outlandish, thought-provoking, unsettling, or whatever the author intends them to be. On the other hand, these texts offer us the chance to understand those different from ourselves. Literature acts as a sort of time vessel capturing the thoughts, actions, and motivations of a given person at a given time or as a reflection of a culture and its values. Studying English doesn't just mean you can differentiate a metaphor and simile, a Petarchian sonnet from a Shakespearan or Spenserian one: it means you are granted the chance to learn about the world around you.
Best book or movie you've read/seen recently?
I'd highly recommend the The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. I haven't seen the film, but the wording of the novella is unmatched. The memoir was written by Jean-Dominique Bauby, the former editor-in-chief of Elle magazine after he suffered a massive stroke that left him with locked-in syndrome. The fact that he was able to write such a book was a miracle: someone would read aloud the alphabet, and he would blink on the letter he wanted; he wrote that book letter-by-letter, word-by-word, sentence-by-sentence for nearly 100 pages. If that process isn't enough to reel you in, his eloquent words and insightful advice will.