Wednesday, 5 February 2014

What English Honours Would Teach You

My take on the course I am pursuing :) [In Final Year, Delhi University]

One of the most common insults that the course gets is what does it teach you at the end of the three years? You are just ‘reading’ the texts, anyway. What else! Little do people know that reading is the next best thing in line to gain knowledge, after real-life experience. English literature might not give you knowledge about mechanics or how to gain profit at business, but things that will change the way you look at life, people and situations, and a whole lot of pool of information of historical events and wars that have formed the world as it is now. BTW, there is more than just ‘reading’ Homer, Shakespeare, Wordsworth and Jane Austin. A critical analysis of any text from the psycho-analytical, feminist, modern and capitalist point of view is the basis to passing the exams.

English Honours is the perfect course for someone still disillusioned about ones future. Are you one of the freshers to the course who feels lost? A degree in English has many benefits and you gain the knowledge you can use in further studies in varied fields. The following are some of the main areas you’ll be apt in at the end of your English degree :

1.      Critical Thinking
The years of examining, criticising and over-analysing fictional incidents and characters would change the way you look at life and the people around you. You’ll know how to handle an argument, the quality most sought after in a journalist, a lawyer, and an intelligent man! J

2.      History
You would know the history of England on your tips; the social, cultural and political milieu right from the 14th century till now. Besides a knowledge of Greek mythology, modern history of Africa, the modern and pre-modern history of America and the history of partition of India, you’ll know how our lifestyle depends on political and cultural decisions.
Masters in History won’t be the most off-beat course to do after English Literature.

3.      Culture
With history of a place, you’ll learn about the culture and the lifestyle of the characters in your books.
 Masters in culture and development is a viable option after it.

4.      Feminist Thinking
Every era has a main discourse; the present one has sexuality and feminism at its core, said a lecturer. You’ll do a feminist reading of every text, and learn to look for hidden meanings in many scenarios and sentences. This again gives way to critical writing from feminist point of view; or it might ignite in you a passion for gender studies, which is a well-researched course in many universities at this time.

5.      Literature
The most obvious thing to pursue further is English Literature, obviously. But after the under-graduation, you’ll know better to not take anything to be obvious.

6.      Reading between the Lines
This is one thing, after critical thinking that you will carry on in your real life too. Why a person said what he said, why a character is the way he is; how a few childhood incidents left an impact on how a person had turned out to be as an adult, etc.

The Perks!
These four years are not in the least the ‘waste’ of your life. While being surrounded with people similarly disillusioned by their futures, you realise it’s a world with many opportunities. And there are numerous perks to being a student of English Literature! Here are some; the rest you may find on your own during the journey in the course!
  •       There is an ‘air’ around the course and the people who pursue it. It also stands out from the rest of the degrees in a stack of resume, as well. On the first day of college, we were told by a lecturer, that a degree in English on your resume puts you above 38% of the population in getting a job.
  •          You can amuse people on quoting a line by Charles Dickens or Virginia Woolf, and they would never know that you wouldn’t have read any of it if you didn’t have to. Only in the middle of the classics, do you realise ‘why’ they are so famous and loved. When you say your most favourite book is Jane Eyre, to a non-English Honours you would look smart and intelligent, and not a geek, which an engineer stating a maths fact would look!
  •          You read all those books filled with sexual innuendos, and the funniest of lectures are just a part of your degree!   Question: Who do you know laughs hysterically while reading a course book? Answer:  An English Honours student!
  •          Most of the self-study would be fun, interesting, emotional and make you think. 

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