Welcome back to Fall 2021! We are thrilled to be back to the academic grind, and excited to see some faces IRL. Masks on, of course!

HUMSOC has some big news to kick off the 21-22 school year!

The Department formerly know as EWL has transformed, upgraded, renewed and renamed and will henceforth be know as-

Writing, Language and Literature. Has a nice ring, don’t you think. The newly named Department has big news hidden in it’s pages: a brand new major.

You can now major in Creative Writing at MMC. What was formerly a Concentration in the major is now full blown major unto itself. The official announcement from Dept. Chair Michael Colvin came earlier this summer:

We are pleased to announce that the Department of English and World Literatures (EWL) will be merging with the Department of Academic Writing (WRIT) as of July 1, 2021. Our new name will be the Department of Writing, Literature, and Language. Starting this summer, students can declare as their major a B.F.A. in Creative Writing, or a B.A. in English and World Literatures with a concentration in Literature or Literature and Media. The Department of Writing, Literature, and Language will be the home of the Academic Writing Program, and will continue to offer minors in Creative Writing, Literature, and Literature and Media; and language and culture classes in Arabic, Chinese, French, and Spanish.

– Prof Michael Colvin

All these exciting changes got us wondering: How was the study of English evolved at MMC?

The earliest records we could find show an English program heavily focused on American and European literature, but there are definitely a few classes that are still on the books! When yours truly (esteemed HUMSOC admin and MMC alum) arrived on campus the English Dept. had minors, but no concentrations, and featured core classes organized by era, with some focused on theme or genre. By the time I matriculated English had become English and World Literatures (2010), with a focus on moving towards a broader canon. This Dept. also included a concentration in Creative Writing, which had previously only been available as a minor.

When I showed up in 2004 there wasn’t even a CRW minor, so I designed that and it grew into a concentration in EWL in 2014 (?) and NOW it’s a BFA in WLL.

– Prof Jerry Williams

Thanks for joining us on that jaunt down memory lane in appreciation of our wonderful faculty past and present, and also of all the ways HUMSOC continues to grow and evolve. If you have any questions about WWL reach out to Prof Colvin, and all Creative Writing questions can go straight to Prof Williams. The HUMSOC fam is now located on main campus, split between CH202 and NH151. Stop by with any questions, comments, concerns and long delayed greetings. It really has been wonderful to see folks back in action.

Off to the races! First reminder of the school year to stay hydrated, stay kind, get rest and take care of yourselves and each other. As always, thanks for reading.

Hello, everyone! Welcome back to 255. We are super excited to be here at the end of the spring semester. WE DID IT! To all faculty, staff, and students alike, you should be proud of what we have accomplished this semester – it was no easy feat. We, here at HUMSOC, would like to recognize our appreciation for all of the hard work you all have put into the 2020-2021 Academic Year. A special shoutout and congratulations to the Class of 2021! You made it! We wish you the best of luck as you embark on the next journey of your lives. A last piece of advice, no matter how far you go, remember you always got community here on East 71st! This week, as we say our goodbyes for the semester, we are bringing you the 411 on the history behind summer break. Who is the godsent individual that began this holiday? And why? All your summer queries will shortly be answered. Without further ado, let’s get started.

To uncover the origins of summer vacation, the 255 discovered the following information provided by Malki Ehrlich, author of the article “Why Do We Have Summer Vacation?”

So what is summer vacation?
Summer vacation, which can be either referred to as summer holiday or summer break is a school holiday that occurs in the summer both in the United States and in other countries around the world. Summer break is usually the longest break in the school year lasting usually for a period of 6 to 14 weeks, depending on the country.

Origin of summer vacation
There have been a lot of myths and oral tradition concerning the origin of summer vacation. Some of these myths contend that summer vacation or summer holiday originated as a result of the school calendar originating from the Agrarian family calendar. Since during the early settlement of the United States, the nation was made up primarily of farmers. According to this myth, it was believed that school kids took a break during summer to help their parents in their fields and farms. As exciting this story may sound, it is incorrect and had nothing to do with kids sweating off labor hours in the farm all in the name of tilling the soil. Before the civil war, school kids never took a break from school during summer. Looking back at the history of the American summer breaks we found that in the year 1842, school kids in the city of Detroit had an academic year that ran for 260 days.

The origin of summer vacation in the US had a lot to do with the rising middle and upper class in American society. During the summer period, most wealthy and affluent families took all excuses to escape from the hot and harsh summer weather with their kids to the cool countryside. This affected the school attendance and learning progress since school attendance wasn’t mandatory at that time. As this continued, legislators and labor union advocates argued for counterbalancing a more regulated summer holiday/break for school kids. They were all agreed that the idea of learning year-round was not ideal for kids since the brain is a muscle which needed to be rested.

As time went by, summer holiday became a norm and fully instituted with various districts cutting out about 40- 60 days off the school year calendar to accommodate this newly conceived summer break. Gradually, summer holidays became a sort of business for business folks who took advantage of this summer break to turn it into a business industry and venture.

A big thanks to Malki Ehrlich for shedding the light on the social constructions of summer vacation. It is always fascinating to learn the sociological foundations of things we usually take for granted like summer break. Be sure to take time over the vacation to read and learn more about the origin of topics that interest you.

We would like to again congratulate everyone for finishing this term. Although the summer will be lonely without you, we can’t wait to see your return in the fall for another amazing academic year. To the Class of 2021, we are beyond proud of all your accomplishments and look forward to keeping in touch. To everyone, be sure to take the time over the summer break to decompress, relax, and give your body the rest it deserves. As always a last reminder, to be kind, stay safe, and wear lots of sunscreen in the summer season. SEE YOU SOON!!