January 23, 2024
Genevieve Sly Crane

Genevieve Sly Crane is a Novelist and Professor of Creative Writing at SUNY Stonybrook. Visit Genevieve's LinkedIn page to learn more.

You can do anything with an English major! Here's what I did with mine...

The English major was a critical starting point for my career as a novelist and academic. I took advantage of the Oxford summer seminar, and it helped me see that academia wasn't (always) just a stuffy, tweed-jacket stereotype: it could be experiential, and its scholars could be people like me. The English major doesn't skimp on the literary canon, so when I entered my MFA program after graduation, I had a clear foundational understanding of what literature had already done - and how the landscape could change in the future.

After I earned my MFA degree, imposter syndrome crept in and I spent a few years avoiding writing and higher education altogether. I worked as an executive assistant for a writer and spent some time as a freelance researcher for other "real" writers before I began adjuncting.

My first novel (which was geographically set at UMass,) was published in 2018 and helped me to secure a second book contract, a Whiting Award, and a tenure-track position at an R1 university. A lot of writing success is attributable to luck, but skill is just as essential. I wouldn't have been prepared without the English department at UMass.