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ELIZABETH J.

DICKHUT
Synthesizing Across Disciplines
(Literature Capstone, Fall 2014)
Im majoring in unemployment. This statement is usually my response when family
members or other students question my decisions in college. Triple majoring in English
Literature, History, and Music Performance hasnt necessarily been the easiest route of study.
While each area is interesting individually, when studied together a vibrant new understanding is
unlocked. This is why I chose to be an overinvolved, overloaded student: the connections
between the disciplines give unmeasurable benefits and take a fragmented classroom education
and unite it into a cohesive whole. Throughout my time at Loras College, as well as studying
abroad, my education has been more meaningful due to being comprehensive, inclusive, and
unified.
Loras College offers students the opportunity to gain a more comprehensive education
by specifically attempting to connect across a variety of disciplines by offering many majors and
required general education courses. Within these courses, students are able to bring their
personal flavor. In working with the Honors Program, my small group all has different majors,
from economics to media studies. This allows us each to be more effective and have different
creative solutions when confronting a problem. Also, it creates a more comprehensive learning
environment, as each person brings unique viewpoints. In an essay I wrote for my Leadership
Seminar for Social Justice, a prevailing theme is my development as a leader due to outside
influences. Without different classes or opinions, my intellectual process would almost certainly
be stagnant which wouldnt help anyone. However, due to the influence of professors and other
students, my personal leadership garden has been able to expand, grow, and be fruitful.

This fruitfulness can be seen specifically in my writing and the synthesis of styles.
While some people think that an excellent writer is naturally gifted, developing the required
skills usually takes a lot of dedication and effort. I realized this for the first time in college. When
I decided to pursue English and History, most of my peers thought my decision made sense
because both genres are very dependent upon reading and writing. No one told me, however, that
it would be two dramatically different styles. In attempting to complete two thesis projects in one
semester, this has especially been emphasized. There is a rather strict guide for writing within the
field of history. In attempting to make my paper more artistic I occasionally sacrifice the
required formula. My professor appreciates my English creativity but then tells me I must adhere
to the rules.
Following a writing formula then got me into trouble with my English thesis. Before
writing a paper, I always would do research, find critics, and analyze the information before
coming up with an opinion. However, my English professor wanted me to have my own new
and exciting ideas and then go to the sources. When I heard this, the historian in me started
crying a little. So, I locked myself in a room for about two hours and just wrote my thoughts
about Richard Wrights Native Son and was actually quite successful. Looking at these two
styles and analyzing my development, I was then able to synthesize a unique writing style. This
can be seen through my Statement of Purpose for graduate school applications. While the
paper is supposed to be more formal, it also needs to be unique and personal. Therefore, I was
able to use a more creative, lyrical writing style while still adhering to the rules and procedures.
Being able to synthesize different writing styles has definitely helped me to develop as a student
and an individual. Historical and English Literature writing, while similar, are different enough

to confuse and frustrate me, but have also forced me to be a more inclusive and comprehensive
student.
Both of these areas of study have also helped me further my Music major. While most
people think music just involves playing instruments or singing, the major is very
comprehensive. In preparation for my recital, English and History both have both played a vital
role. Understanding the historical context for a work dramatically affects the interpretation and
style. Also, writing program notes and piece descriptions is a unique form of writing that
requires dexterity in manipulating words. While my essay Beethoven and Yoga isnt for my
recital, it highlights the importance of history to music, as well as illustrates the impact of my
English major on my music studies. Each discipline, while able to stand on its own, gains
meaning through synthesis with another area of study.
English Literature, History, and Music Performance are all excellent genres
individually. However, when combined, they react with each other positively to create a more
comprehensive education. While sometimes styles and ideas might clash, like in writing, the end
product is unity. Without a firm basis in writing, my history and music majors would have both
been a struggle. Excluding history from my English and music majors would have detracted
meaning from the origins of books or pieces of music, as well as taken away important historical
context. Without my Music major, both my English and History majors would have lacked
artistry and creativity. Combined, I know that Loras College has given me the valuable
opportunity to develop personally and professionally due to the connection between areas of
study and across disciplines.