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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The Playlist Files

    

 

My tracks of the week (fortnight?!):

 

 

1) Diane Young – Vampire Weekend

2) Beggars – Mallory Knox

3) Get Lucky – Daft Punk

4) Dreary Town – Nadine Shah

5) Conquistador – 30 Seconds To Mars

 

 

Number One is the new single by Vampire Weekend, it’s absolutely stellar and I cannot stop listening to it. Definitely a hit of the summer and I imagine that you’re hearing it everywhere at the moment, I certainly am.

Number Two is a track I stumbled across due to friends down at my radio station. It’s a single by this (fairly) new British band who are up for ‘Best British Newcomer’ at the Kerrang! awards. Solid punk-rock track if that’s your sort of vibe.

Number Three – if you haven’t heard this track yet, please climb out from the rock you’ve been living under and go check it out. It’s Daft Punk’s first UK number one and it is an absolutely stellar techno/dance song. Love.

Number Four is a track from a relatively unknown artist, but I get the feeling she’s going to be huge. Her voice is really soulful and awesome and her version of ‘Cry Me A River’ is incredible. I strongly suggest you check her out.

And last but not least, Number Five is the new single from 30 Seconds To Mars. As far as I’m aware we haven’t heard any solid information on a new album but it’s clear something very exciting is going on. This track is straight forward rock and roll, but it sounds like classic 30stm, so if that’s what you’re into; definitely a track for you.

 

So there you have it, quite a diverse mix once again – indie-rock, punk-rock, techno/dance, soul(ish) and rock ‘n’ roll.

Youtube video of my Number One this week:

 

See you soon,

B

XO