Every year, I do a FAQ for people looking into taking Literature compiled from questions that I have received in the previous year. This year, some of my friends were super-nice and entertained my list of questions that I have gathered through the year (which I will answer as well!). And yes, I’ve actually referred some of them for previous posts, but this is the first time that I’ve actually posted their responses wholesale without adding my own opinions.
J is someone who I have known to be an excellent student. Or more excellent than I am, in most metrics at least. J’s academic interest is in medieval literature and gender relations (if my knowledge is anything to go by). But of course, she also has time for those spiffy Gundam references.
A and yours truly often chat (and rant) about Japanese pop culture and Literature. Academically, A is interested in the long 18th Century, Irish Literature, Ecocriticism, Japanese and Chinese Literature. But, most of the time, we end up ranting about how critics use almost un-understandable academic writing anyway.
S is someone who I know to be interested in feminism and 18th century literature. Right now I’m pretty sure she does NOT want me to talk about fashion.
And lastly me, Michelle/M in the Q&A. (I’ve never really spoken about myself, right?) I am interested in the Gothic, 18th century, Ecocriticism, Medieval Literature, Japanese pop culture and Chinese Literature. Yep. I am the one annoying person that will always recommend more Vocaloid songs. Pity Poor A who has to deal with me ^^;.
Also this FAQ is SUPER long, so I’m saving it under a read more tag.
This post was inspired by a few things:
1) Apparently, I heard that the career counselors at a certain school laughed when they heard that my peers wanted to give them a resume to look at. Nope, not cool at all bro. 😐
2) I’ve also heard that the juniors have had problems securing internships.
So I thought that I might as well share my internship search experience and what I would’ve done differently if I had to do it again.
Most of the Literature students I know will tell you that they “don’t want to be a teacher” when they graduate. This is probably a reflexive response to the automatic assumption that all English Literature graduates wish to become teachers, but I completely cringe inside even as I have to correct the assumption that I will be a teacher.
Yes, I find the assumption that all Literature is good for is teaching frankly ridiculous. Likewise, a degree in English Literature does not a teacher make.
Nowadays, when people ask me if I want to be a teacher, my automatic response is to point out that they’re communicating in English and tell them that I can be whatever I want since I can manipulate their language and thus what they think. Normally that tends to shut people up pretty quickly.
When my brother points out my FYP was easy *hintmyFYPwasthestuffofnightmareshint*, I point out that I had seven texts and probably read each of them a hundred times, so how would he like to read some materials seven hundred times. Normally that shuts him up very quickly too. (If my brother is reading this, please also note that I had strong moral support, but moral support does not write an essay either. Science projects were comparatively easier precisely because you had experiments.).
But this isn’t just a rant about how I have to justify the “usefulness” of my degree. This is mainly a rant about how people think studying something automatically qualifies one to be a teacher.
No, an English degree does not qualify me as a teacher. Being able to write pretty decent essays that do not make people want to faint also does not qualify me as a teacher. Being able to write essays about video games and society is (subjectively) cool, but it does not make me a teacher. I’m pretty sure I’m not a teacher even though I teach. In fact, I pretty much view myself
a failure a work in progress as far as teaching is concerned because I feel like I failed to inspire the wonder and the magic that my teachers did in their students. Sure, I probably did manage to avoid the biggest traumas (eg. telling someone they can’t do something) but in the same turn, sometimes I feel like the work I do is utterly forgettable, that people won’t remember it after they leave school, which is such a pity. There is a certain skill to it, and a very specific form of knowledge that all teachers must acquire. Much as I wish my English degree helped with that, I have to admit that I do not have the least idea of how to impart these ideas.
(This might just be the most roundabout way of thanking the great teachers that I’ve had the pleasure of coming across for putting up with this bullheaded idea that anyone with a degree can do their job.)