Rose Munsey-Kano: Senior English Major and Summer Scholar

Hometown: West Lebanon, NH

Major: English

Minor: Writing

Hobbies: Singing, drinking too much coffee, nerding out about Harry Potter and Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Office, dancing, copy editing everything I see

Job: Administrative Writing Tutor at the Writing Center

Her Campus Ithaca College: What do you love most about your work/major?

Rose Munsey-Kano: I love that I can learn about history, sociology, and psychology all through the lens of what I love most: literature. 

HCIC: What is your research about?

RMK: Right now I am researching and writing my senior thesis to graduate with Honors in English, and I chose to write about Mohsin Hamid's Exit West and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Americanah. I love contemporary world literature and everything that goes along with it. My focus for these two novels is on the power of fiction in a dialogue about immigration, refugees, and travel generally.

HCIC: What are some of the difficulties you face doing independent research (whether it be over the summer or during the school year)?

RMK: Over the summer I did an intensive, full-time research project, but it was my only academic project. Now, during the year, the main difficulty is definitely managing my time. It can be tricky to prioritize thesis work when I have a more concrete assignment like an essay due the next day, but I try to set smaller goals for myself. I also remind myself that my thesis work is A) the most important thing to me this semester and B) will become urgent and concrete at the end of the term, and I need to  spread the work out now.

HCIC: What is the general response when you talk to people about your major/research? Are people receptive? If so, how? Are people resistant? If so, how?

RMK: My summer research was on guns in American society and literature. The project was pretty wide-reaching, but I ended up writing about the mythology of the gun in our country, how it came to be, and how literature can help us understand its emotional quality better than the legal and political jargon we currently use to discuss the gun and gun violence. I presented this research recently at the college and I was pleasantly surprised by how receptive everyone I spoke to was. I think a lot of people with whom I spoke never thought that fiction could be a tool for contemporary issue analysis and were intrigued. That made me happy because I think often the English major and literary analysis are misunderstood, on all levels, and it was my hope that my research would be an example of its strength and usefulness.

HCIC: Do you get the response from others that your major is not practical for the "real world"? If so, how do you respond?

RMK: Often! Especially when I was just starting college and relatives (and overly concerned strangers) thought they could sway me to change my major. By this point, they've realized I'm not going to do that, so... Either way, I usually get pretty heated and say that there are actually a LOT of job opportunities for English majors. Being an English major means you're learning to read and think critically, write well, and speak eloquently. Those are three things that most (if not all) jobs require, and that is reflected in the wide variety of jobs English majors go on to pursue. (Check out the website Dear English Major for more info!) As for myself, I would like to be a college professor. That goal also gets a lot of condescending looks, and then my answer is this: I know this is what I am passionate about and I'm going to pursue it with everything I have, because what would my life be like if I was too scared to even try?

HCIC: One final question: Do you have any advice for underclassmen in the English major or in the humanities more generally?

RMK: Keep at it! Do what you love and do it well and you will be okay. Don't let other people sway you from studying what you want to study. There will be jobs for passionate, driven people like you.