Professor and Chairperson, Department of English
Ask English professor Chris Cain why anyone would want to study Old English, a language that has gone unspoken for almost 1,000 years, and he has the perfect answer. “Of course, it depends on the person you are,” he grins, “but how about because it’s fun! It can simply be for the enjoyment of broadening your intellectual horizons – the joy of learning.”
It’s just that kind of infectious enthusiasm that informs Cain’s conversation about Old English literature in particular and Towson’s English department in general. While noting that Towson is the only university in the area where an Old English class is offered, he also gives high marks to his department’s other offerings to students.
“We’re a young department, which brings a lot of fresh energy and excitement to what we do,” he says. “Our faculty are not only excellent teachers, but also are really savvy in the digital humanities. Together, I think we cover all of the possible bases that a student who’s interested in English studies could possibly want.”
But why English over a career-track major? Cain again has a ready answer. “With some professions, there’s no telling that a profession you’re training for today is going to be in demand tomorrow. But if you’re taking a humanities degree, you’re gaining a set of important skills that don’t have an expiration date. You’ll always be in possession of some assets that will be valuable throughout your working life.”
“The most important thing that we teach students in our department is how to read, how to write, and how to put those two skills together,” he notes, “so they can become more informed and independent thinkers about the world around them.”