Major Spotlight: Tess Maki

This senior recommends the English class "Protest Literature and Community Action"
English major Tess Maki

Year: Senior
Hometown: Richfield, MN

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

Most of my classmates in high school were interested in STEM or business fields, so when I got to the U, it was a bit shocking to meet so many people who loved English. I found it comforting to know that my own interest in literature is supported and valued by an entire community.

"Literature feels even more relevant,
more powerful, when it’s directly
connected to the world around us."

Are you pursuing any majors, minors, internships, or fields of interest outside your English major?

I’m a double major in French and English. What I’ve learned in my English courses—how to read a text closely, how to write a thesis statement, how to think critically, etc.—has proven useful in my French courses as well. There, analytical and critical writing assignments often make up a large part of the course grade. And beyond academics, the hard skills I’ve acquired in my English major—my grammatical knowledge, especially—come in handy when I tutor for Student Writing Support.

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

I’d recommend Dr. Annemarie Lawless’ Irish literature course for English majors who want to improve their close reading skills while working with challenging texts. For non-majors, it’d be Dr. Eric Daigre’s course, “Protest Literature and Community Action.” In addition to regular reading assignments, the coursework entails volunteering for a social justice cause somewhere in the Twin Cities. I found that literature feels even more relevant, more powerful, when it’s directly connected to the world around us, and I think non-majors would find the same.

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

I studied abroad in France recently and had a lot of opportunities to travel by myself. On weekends, I would take a train to a region I’d never heard of just to explore it. I had no real reason to be in any of those places, no one to visit, and no one accompanying me. While it was intimidating to travel alone, it was also the most liberating thing I’ve ever done.

Best book or movie you've read/seen recently?

Markus Zusak is my favorite author, and I finally started reading Bridge of Clay, which just came out last October. He worked on it for almost two decades, and it shows. The writing is gorgeous—a little obscure, at times, but always accessible. I’d recommend anything of his to anyone who has the time and patience to read it.

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