Why you Need to Study English Literature Degree

The experience of studying English Literature degree

In uncertain times like today we need to have skills to protect us from hard times.

When I studied English Literature I needed to wear glasses. As soon the degree was over I no longer needed glasses. The amount of reading I had to read a week was crazy! Three sometimes four books a week and I was working full-time. You can imagine the stress on the eyes! I’ve learned so much more than reading and writing.

Most people would tell me why on earth are you studying this, it’s a useless degree! I would be flabbergasted and wouldn’t really know what to say back apart from the fact that I love reading books and I love writing. To be able to write an essay is not an easy thing for a person who doesn’t come from an Anglo-Saxon schooling system!

So when I had comments like that did make me question my choice but deep down I knew I had made the right decision. When I met an amazing professor called Dr. Fleur Rothschild she changed everything! She is a tiny woman. She wore hats and bright clothes probably to compensate the short height.

She was one of those rare women gifted with eyes that could linger briefly on yours and make you feel, rightly or wrongly, you were genuinely invited into the mystery of her life. She was spectacular when she was teaching. I had a few one-to-one lessons with her, I was so lucky! When I wasn’t excited or I didn’t quite get something I’d remember those silly comments and tell the professor.

I could see her blood boil and she would take a breath of air and tell me:

Next time someone says that to you, tell them you are studying transferrable skills! That will shut everyone up!’

It was true. And it was true about transferrable skills.

How many subjects are transferrable skills?

Maybe a few.

English Literature is one of them. Why? When you go through the study of it you learn critical thinking, critical ‘arguments’ and how to express your opinion. When I had to write essays it had to always be a few points of view on a poem or a book. It taught me to take an account of other point of view and it can be equally as valid as mine.

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Not only did I learn to write and express myself on the paper but also I learned to appreciate others’ opinion. After all you are not alone in this world and there are so many people with so many different stands and points of view. It really opened my mind of the world and books and history of the world.

This degree teaches you to form your sentences and your thoughts in a comprehensive way.

It teaches you that there can be many ways of writing a book. It teaches you to express yourself and be ‘judged’ on it. I would often cry when I get the results back because I wanted always an A and I wouldn’t always get an A.

With this degree when there is no right or wrong answer how can you improve? I felt I had poured out my heart on the piece of paper and I got a C. It was heart breaking. However, I’ve learned to express my heart in a way that was understood for an A. However, who’s to ‘judge’ and who’s to say this is a C or an A?

My grades would always be lower because I was not only studying the subject i.e. Shakespeare’s plays’ but I would also be studying how to write an essay. Sometimes I’d be very successful and sometimes not so much. What this taught me is a structure of writing.

A structure of my thoughts and a structure for an essay.

I used to write emails at work as mini essays. I became the best at writing emails at work only because I studied English Literature. I became a lot more observant when people spoke. Because when I read I had to be observant of what I read and had to have my point of view for the seminar discussions.

For all those who said I am studying a useless degree, I can now say, who’s a person that ‘won’? The one who studied a business degree or a person who did an English degree? What transferrable skills can you get from a business degree?

I studied an MA in Marketing and I can tell you one thing I’ve learned nothing in that degree! Well, ok maybe one thing that you don’t need an MA to be a marketer or create a business. I soon discovered what a nonsense degree that was. Funnily enough, no one has ever said that to me!

English Literature degree changed my life, the way I think, the way I read, what I read, the way I write and the way I approach life! This is a lot more than getting a job after doing a degree! I come from a place where I had to study a ‘useful’ degree like a teacher or a doctor or an engineer.

I am glad I chose different kind of useful! I miss that degree so much. I miss the intellectual chats with my classmates. I miss discussing on how difficult Chaucer is and so on. The world of books is magical and I wish everyone to experience this kind of magic.

Love and light!

I am a writer who learned to code! I write about personal experiences within a humanist and global context. Find me on Twitter & Instagram @erikachaudhary

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