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Thread: English Literature degree

  1. #1
    Rather to reign in hell.. KyleBennett's Avatar
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    English Literature degree

    Should an English literature degree be mainly concerned with works written primarily in the English language? For example, my degree covers no work from the great French, Russian, German authors. When asked why not, we merely get the reply that it's English literature.

    I find this quite close minded; literature is literature the world over so why not cover books that have been translated?

    I'd like to hear your thoughts on this.

    Thanks

    Après tout, je suis con. (Breathless)






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    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    My English lit degree was overwhelmingly concerned with works written in English. There were some courses, mostly medieval or earlier that had bearing on English lit. There was a comparative lit department that delved in works from across the world.
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

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  3. #3
    Asa Nisi Masa mayneverhave's Avatar
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    I'm currently majoring in English,
    but of course I've read, and plan on reading, plenty of works from other languages.

    All of my English classes, of course, require readings only in English or from British/Irish/American authors. This is irritating. I would love to study Dostoevsky, Proust, etc. in a classroom setting but the only way to study Russian literature is in a Russian class, which is conducted in Russian - reading the works in their original - of which I have no skill and no ability.

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    A ist der Affe NickAdams's Avatar
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    Consider it a specialty. It's like cardiology. The medical field is too vast and has to be divided and so does literature. A lot of study takes place in context and language is as good of context as any. Is there a degree in world literature?

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    Rather to reign in hell.. KyleBennett's Avatar
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    Yeah true. However a knowledge of literature is incomplete without studying other texts in other languages? The course I am studying at the moment, when in 4th year one of the options of study is the works of Bob Dylan, and another is Digital poetry. I know this is argument is merely confined to my particular university, however I do believe many universities have these what I wold call low studies ( even though I accept that people would find Bob Dylan's work life changing ), shouldn't these potentially useless pathways be replaced with foreign literature?

    A cardiologist needs to learn about everything in order to become a cardiologist, so a degree in literature shouldn't be different.

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  6. #6
    Registered User knightss's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NickAdams View Post
    Consider it a specialty. It's like cardiology. The medical field is too vast and has to be divided and so does literature. A lot of study takes place in context and language is as good of context as any. Is there a degree in world literature?
    very true.
    I'm and English Lit minor.. i figured the major would require other aspects of literature aside from English. I'm a History Major and it requires that we take all type of history.. I've taken Asian History, Mexican History, probably around 7-8 American History, English History.. but we get a bit of everything to get a complete understanding of the workings of the world and how the countries/territories interact with one another.
    "Words can be like x-rays, if you use them properly - they'll go through anything. You read and you're pierced." - Huxely


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  7. #7
    A ist der Affe NickAdams's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KyleBennett View Post
    A cardiologist needs to learn about everything in order to become a cardiologist, so a degree in literature shouldn't be different.
    The little bit of everything would be literary techniques and what is needed to analyze literature. That's the foundation, but a cardiologist and a neurologist specialzed studies differ. World literature would be important to an English lit degree in how world literature influenced english authors.

    I do think a classroom setting for world lit would be more beneficial for english speakers, than what is offered now. I can feel out an unknown english author with out a problem, but being assisted through foreign country would be greatly helpful. Like the April read for example: I would love to speak with someone that can assist me with Chinese culture, symbolism, etc.


    Quote Originally Posted by knightss View Post
    very true.
    I'm and English Lit minor.. i figured the major would require other aspects of literature aside from English. I'm a History Major and it requires that we take all type of history.. I've taken Asian History, Mexican History, probably around 7-8 American History, English History.. but we get a bit of everything to get a complete understanding of the workings of the world and how the countries/territories interact with one another.
    Maybe it's semantics, but a History major would learn world history and a American History major would only learn amreican history. Then, a Literature major would learn all of literature and an English lit major would learn English lit. The adjective creates the box.

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  8. #8
    Rather to reign in hell.. KyleBennett's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NickAdams View Post
    The adjective creates the box.
    Yes it does. It's probably just my own fault then for creating that box. Hm if only I could change it...

    Après tout, je suis con. (Breathless)






  9. #9
    A ist der Affe NickAdams's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KyleBennett View Post
    Yes it does. It's probably just my own fault then for creating that box. Hm if only I could change it...
    If it's all the university has to offer, then the blame is not on you. Create a new major? Good idea!

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  10. #10
    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KyleBennett View Post
    Yeah true. However a knowledge of literature is incomplete without studying other texts in other languages? The course I am studying at the moment, when in 4th year one of the options of study is the works of Bob Dylan, and another is Digital poetry. I know this is argument is merely confined to my particular university, however I do believe many universities have these what I wold call low studies ( even though I accept that people would find Bob Dylan's work life changing ), shouldn't these potentially useless pathways be replaced with foreign literature?

    A cardiologist needs to learn about everything in order to become a cardiologist, so a degree in literature shouldn't be different.
    Bob Dylan?? What a waste of a class. I like Bob Dylan and all, but reading Bob Dylan is not reading important literature, or at least not great literature. Unless this is a requirement I would take something else.

    I agree with some of the other comments. English lit is vast. If you don't concentrate on English lit, then you will be missing out on something. As it is, with concentrating on English lit I still missed out on most of the 18th century works. I read non-English lit in my spare time and summers on my own.
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

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    My literature blog: http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/

  11. #11
    Alea iacta est. mortalterror's Avatar
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    I think that English literature itself is vast and worth a lifetime of study, and I do agree that it is important to specialize. One needs to have a focus, and structure in order to do just about anything. Literature is no different. That said, a broad and varied experience is just as important as a deep understanding of particulars. English literature does not exist in a vacuum.

    I went into the English major thinking I'd learn all sorts of foreign literature too. I expected I'd get to Dante, Cervantes, and Homer eventually, but four years just blew by. When I took stock of all that I had learned, I realized that worse than just focusing on English literature, most of my studies had consisted of American literature of the early twentieth and late nineteenth centuries. There were a lot of things I didn't pick up in school. I never learned proper grammar, and I still have a lot of difficulty writing essays. You need to take control of your own education and decide what's really important for you to learn. Otherwise you'll just drift along with all the other people through the revolving doors of a diploma mill.

  12. #12
    Registered User HotKarl's Avatar
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    Generally, the classes that constitute an English degree vary from university to university. If your major is "English Literature," the way I understand it, you're mostly going to deal with works from Great Britain. In fact, I know of a few universities that have "Shakespearean" majors--the Bard and nothing else. A basic "English" degree--distinct from "English Literature"--major seems much more flexible. It's what I majored in, and I had a broad choice of world literatures to select from that counted toward my degree. I happened to concentrate on American literature, but some of the classes offered included Classic, Latin American, Native American, Russian, and European Literature in various movements. On top of the lit classes, I was also required to take various writing and grammar classes; "Rhetoric and Grammar" was probably the most valuable college class I took. If I were you, I would check with your guidance counselor to see if your college/university offers the degree you're looking for. I'm willing to wager they do.
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  13. #13
    Rather to reign in hell.. KyleBennett's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mortalterror View Post
    I think that English literature itself is vast and worth a lifetime of study, and I do agree that it is important to specialize.

    You need to take control of your own education and decide what's really important for you to learn. Otherwise you'll just drift along with all the other people through the revolving doors of a diploma mill.
    I agree that English literature is vast, you can spend several lifetimes worth of study- actually just on John Donne you could devote your life to.

    And I also agree that one should take hold of your own studies and gain more knowledge of literature on your own accord instead of being sucked into the "diploma mill".

    As Virgil pointed out yeah summers are a good time to catch up on our foreign companions; I just believe that foreign literature is just as good to study as any other. Tolstoy, Mann, Kafka, Balzac, Dostoyevsky (to name but a few) should be incorporated into the degree system in the UK.




    Thanks for the replies btw.

    Après tout, je suis con. (Breathless)






  14. #14
    Rather to reign in hell.. KyleBennett's Avatar
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    Oh and yeah there is a Dylan module. But I am steering way clear of it. The pathway i'll be choosing is most likely going to focus on the Post-colonial texts. With some renaissance and romantics thrown in.

    However there are some really dud books being studied... such as Stephen King and Thomas Harris.. in the 4th year.. why?

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  15. #15
    Asa Nisi Masa mayneverhave's Avatar
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    Hah, Stephen King studies.

    You think that's bad?

    My school has a "Philosophy and Harry Potter" class.

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