Maximum students aspiring for a bachelors degree from Delhi University have opted for English Literature, as usual. General consensus agree that literature is the safest and most appealing liberal arts course which will can assure a first division for graduation and possibly a lucrative position at a reputed MNC or PR firm. Take it from a first division holder from your dream college-it’s not as easy as you think. Aspirants obviously harbour lofty expectations from the course and choose it mindlessly which often results in depression as many students find themselves struggling with their assignments and grades which mostly end up frustrating the best of us.
Take our advice and if you don’t agree with the following, do reconsider your choice. For there is no dearth of choice and do keep in mind that your college brand will be of no use if you don’t excel in the subject.
Let’s break it down for you,
Your next three years will revolve around this-
- A concise study of the history and evolution of English Literature-The history of literature should be on your fingertips
- Analysing the context, pretext, subtext of every canon- Every word, every phrase is there for a reason and you will need to access the vast wealth of knowledge which exists to gain clarity and supplement your acumen on the literary work.
- Symbolism, metaphors and the infamous phallic symbol- will rule your life for the next three years.
What I can assure you is that on the successful completion of your course, even if you don’t land a super-duper placement, your perspective and outlook on life will change forever in the more beautiful manner.
You can be sure you want to pursue this if-
- You LOVE literary classics and by classics we are referring to the beauty of Pope’s verse, Dryden’s sarcasm and Milton’s vision. Acquaintance with a few works of Shakespeare or contemporary popular fiction doesn’t really do the trick as you must be patient with classics as their beauty only resonates with those who approach them with sincere dedication and curiosity.
- You love to read. Trust me, your room will be filled with books and photocopies on from the very first month and honestly, it is quite a pity if you simply hoard them for last minute reading before your exam because they won’t serve you any good if you don’t engage with them from day one.
- You grasped the essence of classics such as Ode to the West Wind in your school text because that is certainly the most lucid kind of poetry you will come across in your graduation.
- Remember, there is no scope of rote learning here as there is no “right answer” in literature. Yes, you better get that straight because that is the very essence of literature that you question everything- your existence, your thoughts, society, gender roles, the veracity of the written word- every.single.thing. So you must have a sound foundation which should be based on your derivation from criticisms and parallel texts.
- Have a scientific frame of mind? Give your choice a serious second thought as unless you are ready to endanger your scientific reason with the mysterious, boundless charisma of literature, you will be in trouble. Many students who switch to literature from science, almost always have to resort to rote learning which disregards the very essence of the subject and you will hate it before you know it.
This is a public service announcement–
Just because you can speak in english like a pro and have adequate knowledge of grammar, YOU-DO-NOT-OPT-FOR-LITERATURE; this is not a language speaking course.
As my favourite teacher used to say-
“Rather than English Literature, you study literature in english in this course.”
Literature in english here refers to the fact that you are studying literature in english language and this statement undermines all your perceptions that knowledge of the use of english has anything to do with your knowledge of literature.
This is how things work in the best art colleges of India where the competition is rough; mainly due to the presence of few students who have harboured love for literature since childhood,but do not be discouraged by this. I have seen students without a strong foundation making their mark in literature with sheer hard work and dedication. Even if your love is limited to popular fiction, you will still find your happy place in this course and if you intend on pursuing academics in the future, these three years will be most crucial for building a solid foundation for your career.
Get that straight and you are good to go!
– Confessions of a literature graduate