On doing Literature in College || Musings

Hi all new Literature Students! By now, most of you will be aware of your postings to a Literature course (at least for my Singaporean readers anyway). I am aware that some of you will be excited to do literature; some of you will not be as excited (for various reasons). Some of you will have done literature before; some of you have not taken a single literature class.

Whichever kind of Literature student you are, welcome to the world of Literature. 🙂 Now get prepared for 4 years of late night essay writing, reading and arguing with your friends.

Yes, I want you to get it out of your head that this will be an easy journey. Forget the stereotype of English majors clubbing and getting drunk while the science students memorize stack of notes (that only ever happens on exchange and then it is highly dependent on where you go to). While it is true that science students may memorize stacks of notes, we don’t have it much easier. This is especially true if you hate reading (unfortunately). So be prepared to read late into the night, argue things inside your head and laugh at how ludicrous some things may be.

And when it comes to essay season, be prepared to work into the night sometimes. There will be that moment when you have an essay you just cannot seem to write with a deadline in less than 24 hours and you have to produce something somehow. But that sense of achievement when you produce something will be something that you can hold on to and will be something that you can refer to in those moments when you need to think “I can do this”.

Be prepared to be horrified at the state of the human condition sometimes. To travel to the depths of what some might know as evil, and to empathize with these same people who we may think of as evil. Be prepared to question the assumptions that you hold at the present moment, and then reconstruct your values when they don’t hold. But don’t lose faith in the human condition- just as you should mentally prepare yourself for the stories that will shake you, also remember that there is good in the world.

Finally, there will be people who will tell you all your major is good for is teaching. If you want to laze about in bed all day and not get anything out of your degree, it doesn’t matter which degree you are taking. Your degree is automatically useless. If you are prepared to go the extra mile though, the things you can get out of your literature degree will be immensely valuable. You will learn how to communicate well. You will be able to persuade people easily. Most of all, you will learn how to question everything, including yourself. While this is not something unique to Literature, that is the point- you will be on equal footing with a lot of people. What you do with the skills… well, that is up to you.

As for why you should believe me? Technically I am an anonymous person on the Internet telling you about a topic that I may not have any experience on. So you should read this and question me. When you do, my job here is done.


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