So if you didn’t already know, I’m in my second year at university studying a degree in English with American Literature. When I chose to do this course, I thought it would be a mix of authors and writers, ranging from Shakespeare to Steinbeck- which, to an extent, it is. However, my course works more like this: I do three English literature modules and one American studies module per semester, so it’s not quite what I expected but I’m enjoying it nevertheless. (I think that’s the first time I’ve ever used nevertheless on my blog… can you tell I’m an English student yet?)
I wanted to write about what it’s really like to study an English literature degree from my own experience because I thought it would be quite fun, and quite interesting for those of you who are interested in studying English at university. Obviously you’re going to have to enjoy reading, and you must be prepared to potentially stop reading for fun for the next three years. Yes, that includes fun reading over the summer.
- You have to read a lot- I knew this already, but I don’t think anything can really prepare you for the amount you actually have to read…
- You have to enjoy reading (duh)
- As long as you pass first year it’s fine- but don’t let harsh marks or comments on your essays bring you down.
- Sometimes you have to do core modules, so you can’t pick them. These may not always be that fun, but I had one called Critical Reading 1 and 2, and I really enjoyed Critical Reading 2 and I found it really worthwhile.
- It is possible to write an essay on Middlemarch and North and South without having finished the texts… just make sure you know the plot summary really well.
- If you think you can get through second and third year just by reading plot summaries… think again.
- Your lecturers will know if you have or have not read the set text.
- You are smarter than you know! I think all of my friends are smarter than me but sometimes I come out with something quite clever and when everyone goes “oooh yeah that’s a good point” makes me pretty smug! Don’t be afraid to voice your thoughts.
- If you think you have an idea that could be good, then just say it! You can always start off with “I’m not sure if this is right, but…”
- If you don’t like writing essays, don’t take English. There is no way out of that one. If you take eight modules for the whole year, you will probably have at least one essay per module. So you could have up to eight essays per year, depending on how your university works!
So those are ten things I have learnt in just over one year of studying English! There are of course many other things, like not all of your lecturers are old men who wear tweed jackets and don’t know how to use powerpoints. But then again, not all of them are like the favourite English teacher you get in films. There is a good balance! (One of my lecturers last year was a feminist and she was so cool, and this year I have a blind gay lecturer who is equally as cool but in a totally different way!) I hope you enjoyed this post, and I will be back soon with another Blogtober post!