No matter the situation; a family dinner, hanging out with mates, sitting in the back of an Uber, I am always faced with the question – ‘what the hell are you going to do with an English Degree?’
It makes sense – at this point in a degree one is confronted by the immediacy of the future. Panic sets in, grad schemes are considered, or God forbid it, a masters.
Unfortunately this panic has extended into the department and teaching of English Literature. The world is an ugly place, yet our degree transports us to other fantastic worlds or time periods.
The fact is I don’t care about where my degree is going to take me, and neither should my department. I don’t want to hear about how my essay or group presentation is going to help me gain ’employability skills’ or is in any way accurate of a ‘real’ reflection of working life.
This opportunity to study for the sake of studying is special, and should be treated as such. Give students more opportunity to investigate what they want and learn about what they are interested in, all the while learning not what it takes to be a diligent corporate drone, but an interesting and well rounded human being.
Nobody takes English Literature for the career options. They take it because they want to learn about the world. I just wish the department (and University administration, where the pressure undoubtedly stems from) would do more to fight for what going to university is really about.View more