A close friend of mine made his own major in college. His official major is “Entrepreneurship, Design, and Technological Change” which, to the surprise of no one, remain his current passions to this day. When I think about my own education, I sometimes think about how I might do it differently. I found out too late that the Literature in Translation and Comparative Literature classes had some interesting courses, particularly a course about East Asian graphic novels with another course focusing on manga. I think about all the courses I never knew about, and then I think about what I would have done had I known about it. I think I would have made my own major too.
I would major in Storytelling. With a Storytelling major, I would combine components of English, Communication Arts – Radio/TV/Film*, Folklore, Literature in Translation, and Comparative Literature. Journalism and Theater would have made their way in there too. Classes would study storytelling through the different mediums, from actors on a stage to stories around a campfire to newspaper articles to graphic novels, movies, television, poetry, and, of course, fiction.Ma
A major in Storytelling is an English major on steroids. But instead of writing essays about a singular story with a singular medium, I would focus on stories that are told across several mediums. How has Captain America’s image changed through the years, from comic book to comic book to silver screen? What does an audience think about book!Katniss and movie!Katniss and why are those opinions similar or different? How has the Hero’s Journey evolved through folklore and where can its prevalence be seen in contemporary media without referencing Star Wars?
These are examples of what my Storytelling major would aim to study during the usual courses. For the thesis, I would give myself several options. I could either focus on a single franchise and study how the medium changes the story. For instance, the Twilight franchise is comprised of novels, movies, and graphic novels. How does the story change between them? Which medium would be the best way to consume the story for the first time? Which medium would be the worst?
Franchises are the easiest stories to analyze like this. Perhaps if I had taken this and ran with it to grad school, I would focus on other changes. Which is funnier, a story in a comedian’s stand up act, a comedy skit based on the same story, or the version written in the comedian’s nonfiction book? How do the headcannons of Tumblr both enrich and detract from the Harry Potter universe? Can the audio clip from a radio news story be the same audio clip for a video news story? Can that same news story be transcribed word for word and still make a legible text-article?
For a while, I told myself that if I did go to grad school, I would study Linguistics, with a focus on the evolution of curse words. Now that I organized my thoughts in this post, I might enjoy a master’s degree in Storytelling better.
Now you. If you could go back to college, would you get a different major? If you had the opportunity to make your own major, what would you study? What would you get a master’s degree in if you could? Answer one or all of these questions in the comments!
*The Badger version of a Film Studies major