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Peter Pietrangelo of Sault Ste. Marie presented a research paper at the 2010 John Burroughs Nature Writing Conference and Seminar held during the summer at the State University of New York in Oneonta. The conference, "Old Lessons for a New Millennium: Nature Writing and Environmentalism in the 21st Century," focused on the work of writers who contributed to the early conservation movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and the work of contemporary writers who are exerting an influence on the development of early 21st century environmentalism. Read more

Peter Pietrangelo ('10)
Liberal Studies, concentrations in both English and professional communication

Department of English

Famous English Majors

Certainly many of the well-known and significant people who were English majors in college are the usual suspects: those who went on to become writers or to be otherwise involved with literature, art, and culture.  However, a surprising number have become leading figures in business, law, politics, and medicine.  There are also a couple of famous football coaches, and one astronaut.  This list doesn’t include people who achieved distinction or attended school before the late 19th and early 20th Century, when English first became a formal academic subject, but who were often self-trained in literature, and whose fame consists to a large extent on their ability to use the language.  There is Mr. Shakespeare, of course, but also Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill, among many others.

As you’ll see by the list below, for those who continued literary or artistic pursuits, a degree in English provided them with the knowledge and ability to excel.  For those who followed other careers, the intellectual perspectives, analytical skills, and effectiveness in communication gained through a degree in English proved to be a significant key to their success.

  • Douglas Adams (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)
  • Alan Alda (actor, writer)
  • Russell Baker (journalist)
  • Dave Barry (humorist, writer, actor)
  • Joy Behar (writer, comedienne, co-host of “The View”)
  • Linda Bloodworth-Thomason (television writer/producer “Designing Women”, “Evening Shade”)
  • Gwendolyn Brooks (“We Real Cool”)
  • Carol Browner (head of the Environmental Protection Agency)
  • Edward Burns (actor, director, producer, writer)
  • Brett Butler (actress, writer, comedienne)
  • James Cameron (director, editor, producer, screenwriter of “Titanic”)
  • Johnny Carson (talk show host)
  • Chevy Chase (comedian, actor, writer)
  • Tom Clancy (writer)
  • Mario Cuomo (former governor of New York)
  • Joan Cusack (actress)
  • Matt Damon (actor, screenwriter)
  • Vin Diesel (actor, director, producer, screenwriter)
  • David Duchovny (actor, “X-Files”)
  • Michael Eisner (Walt Disney CEO)
  • Harrison Ford (actor)
  • Jodi Foster (actress, filmmaker)
  • Kathryn Fuller (World Wildlife Fund CEO)
  • A. Bartlett Giamatti (President, Yale University and Commissioner of Baseball)
  • Allen Ginsberg ( “Howl”)
  • Heather Graham (actress, model)
  • Cathy Guisewite (cartoonist of “Cathy”)
  • Mary Hart (co-host of “Entertainment Tonight”)
  • Joseph Heller (Catch 22)
  • Don Henley (singer, songwriter, musician, environmental activist)
  • David Henry Hwang (M. Butterfly)
  • Chris Isaak (songwriter, singer)
  • Famke Janssen (actress, model)
  • Catherine Keener (actress)
  • Stephen King (novelist)
  • Kris Kristofferson (singer, songwriter, musician, actor)
  • Tommy Lee Jones (actor)
  • John Mahoney (actor, Marty on “Frasier”)
  • Arthur Miller (Death of a Salesman)
  • Toni Morrison (Beloved)
  • Paul Newman (actor, food entrepreneur)
  • Joyce Carol Oates (You Must Remember This )
  • Conan O’Brien (talk show host, writer)
  • Randy Owen (singer, songwriter, musician)
  • Joe Paterno (football coach, Penn State)
  • David Hyde Pierce (actor who plays Niles on “Frasier”)
  • Christopher Reeve (actor, writer, director)
  • Sally Ride (astronaut)
  • Geoffrey Rush (actor, director, playwright, musician)
  • Susan Sarandon (actress)
  • Fred Savage (actor from “The Wonder Years”)
  • Diane Sawyer (broadcast journalist)
  • Martin Scorsese (director)
  • Marty Shottenheimer (Former coach of Kansas City Chiefs)
  • Paul Simon (songwriter, singer)
  • Sting (singer, songwriter, musician, actor, environmental activist)
  • Steven Spielberg (filmmaker)
  • Dr. Seuss, a.k.a. Theodor Geisel (children’s author)
  • Amy Tan (Joy Luck Club)
  • Brandon Tartikoff (television executive)
  • Clarence Thomas (U.S. Supreme Court Justice)
  • Emma Thompson (actress, producer, screenwriter)
  • Grant Tinker (TV Executive and Producer)
  • John Updike (Witches of Eastwick, Rabbit at Rest )
  • James Van Der Beek (actor from “Dawson’s Creek”)
  • Harold Varmus (Nobel laureate in medicine, Director of National Institute of Health)
  • Barbara Walters (broadcast journalist)
  • Sigourney Weaver (actress)
  • Eudora Welty (“A Worn Path”)
  • Pete Wilson (former governor of California)
  • Reese Witherspoon (actress)
  • Bob Woodward (journalist, writer of All the President’s Men)
  • Renee Zellweger (actress)



Jessica Hirt

"One of my favorite things about LSSU is its size. The classrooms, especially as you get to the upper levels, get smaller, so you not only have a chance to discuss your ideas in an honest, supportive manner, but you also get to know your professors and classmates. The upper level courses really allow you to focus on what you love, and the small class size allows you to have time to share and to discuss your ideas." [ more ]

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