It’s not an ode at all, I’m afraid. Because if it was, that would involve conforming to even more literary conventions than I’m already obliged to by the very fact I study English. That would be bad news. But it is a little bit of a reflection on what it means to be in my second year of my degree in English Language and Literature. And probably clears up why I’ve been absent for so long (sorry!) A quick note: contrary to the notions that this short ode (rant) conveys, I do actually quite enjoy my degree, and count it amongst the very best things I’ve done in my life so far. Honestly…

First of all, the reading is constant. I have completely and utterly forgotten what it feels like to read a book for pleasure, and I have to say the thought of it kind of scares me right now. The thought of picking a book for myself instead of reading it off my syllabus is somewhat terrifying, but hopefully I’ll have the chance over Christmas. In between writing a portfolio, commentary, essay and revising for 3 exams, of course. Might have a bit of turkey in there too somewhere. Anyway, I digress…

Perhaps my favourite idiosyncratic feature of being an English student is some of the advice given by tutors. My all-time fave being ‘write plainly’. This advice normally comes after a lecture using words such as ‘alterity, ‘palimpsestuous’, or ‘bricoleur’, but of course we’re supposed to strive for ultimate simplicity in our essays. I am yet to write an essay which outlines my argument quite simply: ‘I like this book because the message is good’. It makes me sad to think I may have just summed up a 2500 word essay I wrote once in roughly 9.

But the best thing about being an English student? The relentless snobbery. Remember A Levels, when there was always one intolerable, little snivelling child who boasted about the amount of plays they’d been to see, and quoted countless musicals instead? Well I raise you one. One girl genuinely revealed in my seminar that she’d been reading (and appreciating) Shakespeare since she had one figure ages to her name, and one claimed that she’d been writing sonnets since she was half a decade. Countless whine that we are misinterpretting books, wallow that they’ve had their favourite killed by decadent readers, many find homoeroticism, sexism, political tropes when frankly I would like to throw my peasant edition at them and declare ‘THERE JUST ISN’T ANY TO BE FOUND!’

But other than never being able to do the one thing that made me sign up for this course (read for pleasure), being told to write under false pretences, and having Mrs Anne Hathaway herself defend Shakespeare, English is absolutely great. You should do it. No really, you should.


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