An Elegy To English Literature

Well not really, because I suck at writing poetry – but here are some of my thoughts on the discipline as I leave it behind.

Okay so today’s the day. Today was the last day where I was technically a student of English Literature. Of course, if anyone loves reading and continues to love it then they are always, in some way, a student of English Lit. I have studied English Lit, properly, since I was 14 at GCSE level. I don’t really count what you did before that as studying it, before that level you’re kind of just placing the building blocks for what is to come later.

I then went on to A Level English Lit which I absolutely loved – exploring the contexts and connections between authors and their works. It fascinated me to look for hidden clues in either a poem or a novel (or any other form for that matter), as to what a writer was thinking, or trying to put across as they did so. What I liked the most however, was not the analysis of the actual text itself, but to look at how it’s context had so affected it. I think this is why A Level was so awesome for me, it was about developing an understanding of where authors had got their influence from, discussing how intertextuality was rife throughout literature and making links between different themes etc. I was lucky at A Level that we got one topic which I find interesting; the literature of the First World War, and the second topic was so open ended (Love Through The Ages) that we could basically study what we wanted – within reason.

I liked Lit so much then that I decided to take it on to University in a joint major with History. And this is where the downward slide began. I was made to study texts that I didn’t care for, by writers whose style I really didn’t like. This is hardly surprising of course but it really got me down. Now don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed various aspects we did; Renaissance Sonnets, Hamlet, British Romanticism, Salman Rushdie, Angela Carter etc. but some just drove me to distraction (I’m looking at you Virginia Woolf and Seamus Heaney). I just couldn’t bring myself to care about what they had to say, and I figured that this wasn’t a good thing when studying at University! Even though I love reading, and I love exploring contexts, influences and literary devices that authors and poets used, I realised that I had to be on my terms. It had to be books that I had chosen because I wanted to read  them, not because they fitted well into the section of literary theory that I should be coming to grips with at that moment in time.

So I changed my major to straight History, with a minor in Philosophy. History is one of those subjects that I am so passionate about, that even when we were studying Victorian social surveys, I still found myself moderately interested. I have a burning want to know everything there is to know about a History (even though that’s impossible), and I found my love of English wasn’t quite up to this. I figured that I should rectify this now whilst I still had the chance, before diving into ENG201 Literary Theory module next year (ew!).

I sat my last ever English exam today. I think it went alright. I feel as if I passed at least which is always a plus point! And tonight, I am going to curl up with my kindle, download something totally new (I’ve been wanting to read some Oscar Wilde for a while now) and enjoy just for the sake of it. Yes, I may wonder if Wilde’s Victorian/Edwardian context influenced his work, and how his unique position as the author affected the text… but at least I won’t have to memorise any quotes!

Until next time,

B

XO

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Here’s A Gorgeous Model Talking About Why Being Pretty Is Stupid

I know this totally doesn’t belong on this sort of blog, but I just found this article really interesting. Thought it deserved a repost. Do we define ourselves? Or is our own definition merely a reflection of what we think other people want to see?

Thought Catalog

We always say that you can’t judge a book by its cover. Don’t judge people by what’s on the outside — get to know them and judge them by what’s on the inside. Sayings like these always seem braided up in political correctness. However, we know it’s difficult if impossible not to judge a book by its cover. To live in the social world means that we are constantly reading messages given off by other people, judging (or maybe “reading”) them even when we’re not being judgmental. You might think a person wearing a suit on a Tuesday afternoon has a lot of money even if they don’t, and there’s a reason Stop and Frisk programs uniformly target minority youths.

So even if you can’t judge a book by its cover, we do. And do it every day. But that’s not the bad part. The bad part is when those…

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A Little Out Of Place I Know… A Dedication

Okay, so I know this post doesn’t belong on this page. This page is supposed to be for reviews and the such like, right? Well it is also a personal blog page and I like to think I reserve the right to talk about things here and there that really bother me, interest me or have affected me. Today is one of those days.

I love music. Whether it be rock, metal, punk, pop-punk, classical, pop, or sometimes the occasional bit of rap; it’s all their on my playlists. Who do I have to thank for opening the door to the world of music for me? My Chemical Romance, a band originally from New Jersey, USA. And today they split up.

When I was twelve years old, I barely listened to any music at all, it just wasn’t on my radar; other than the odd jamelia song or occasionally rihanna. And then someone sent me two My Chemical Romance songs over a now obsolete IM service and I was hooked. It through open the door to rock music, and I quickly started to enjoy bands like Green Day, The Rolling Stones, Alkaline Trio, Kill Hannah, The Misfits and many, many, many more… without those two songs I probably would have carried on oblivious. Their album ‘The Black Parade’ changed my life in that it showed me this entire other world where I began to feel comfortable.

The band meant such a lot to me through my teenage years, which aren’t exactly the easiest of anybody’s life. I found solace and refuge in their lyrics and their message; I wasn’t alone, and I had the strength to be who I wanted to be. Yes, it all sounds slightly melodramatic now, but at the age of fifteen a sub-deity with black hair and eyeliner telling you that can mean a lot.

I count myself lucky that they did play such a big part of my teenage life, I got to see them live four times and I do count my lucky stars for that, because some fans have never seen them. They showed me how important music is, and how it could mean so much to so many people. They made some absolutely awesome music, and I’m thankful for the legacy they leave. They were a personal band, a fans band, and sometimes when you’re feeling low, a lyrical hug is exactly what you needed.

Hopefully this is goodnight and not goodbye, I want to see the guys go on a do other things with their incredible talent.

Thank you,

Bryony

“Remember the first time you went to a show and saw your favorite band. You wore their shirt, and sang every word. You didn’t know anything about scene politics, haircuts, or what was cool. All you knew was that this music made you feel different from anyone you shared a locker with. Someone finally understood you. This is what music is about.” — Gerard Way