Nicholas Goldberg: Where have all the English majors gone?
There were English majors in the United States at the end of World War II, but there are certainly none that I know of today. Most of the professors I know in the English Department at the University of California at Berkeley were from the British Isles.
The main reason is probably the shortage of English as a Second Language professors. That lack is probably responsible for most of the decline in the number of native speakers in the English Department and also in other departments at the University of California.
The fact that the English department has been a breeding ground for Anglo-American literary types for many years is proof that English does not have to remain a dead language forever.
Where have all the English majors gone?
In the meantime, a similar phenomenon has been taking place in the departments of other parts of the English Department. Almost overnight, many departments have been emptied of their English majors.
Last spring at Berkeley, for example, we had no English majors in the English Department. By some count, we had just six, three of which were from outside the U.S. At the same time, there were approximately 30 English Majors at Berkeley. It is a matter of historical record that the first English major was John Day in 1851.
During the past five or ten years, more and more English Majors have been graduating from Berkeley (not all who graduate stay in the area).
Now there are at least six English majors teaching at the University of California, four at the University of Oxford, three at Brown University, and one in the Boston area. In addition, there are two English Majors in Canada, one in Australia, one in France, one in Germany, one in Italy, one in the UK, and one in the U.S.
The University of California still has a great number of English Majors and therefore, has a great number of English students. In addition, I have spent a lot of time in the library of the University of California and I cannot recall having seen so many English