If you’re a mega bookworm, if books are your life and soul, if you eat books for breakfast then you’re going to love English Literature. Well, it depends. You also need to be okay with reading books you hate, you need to be patient to get through modules on time periods you couldn’t care less about, and you need to understand Lit is less about reading for enjoyment and more about being able to quickly read craploads of material, process it, and analyse the daylights out of it.
I’ve had some questions from college students regarding English degrees and I thought it would be nice to put all the information in one big post to clear up some confusion. But since I studied both English Language and Literature, it’s difficult to be as informative as possible without making this post over 5,000 words long. So, I’m going to break things down and have a post focusing on just English Language, a separate one on just English Literature and then maybe one on the pros and cons to a joint honours degree in English Language and English Literature. The aim of these posts is to help potential students decide which English course sounds right for them, and to give them a little advice to help them feel more prepared for university.
My first thought while writing the title for this post was: am I really explaining this? I mean, I thought everyone would know that reading a quote does not equal reading the book. But I have another reason for being annoyed by people thinking along these lines and using, “I saw the quotes directly from the text” as justification. I did get a few replies on Twitter from people who said they hadn’t thought about things this way once I ranted about why it upset me. But I’m STILL seeing people do this without realising how messed up it is. So, I decided to write a post on it.
First of all, I’m not supporting problematic content, nor is this an attack on anyone sharing such information with the book community (if it comes across that way, I apologise, not my intention at all). This is a post about exactly what the title says. My issue is with people using lines like: “I read a quote about this book in a review and that’s my evidence that the whole book is terrible.” I’ve literally seen people justify calling an entire book racist/sexist/ableist/homophobic based on quotes in a review, they think those quotes are proof enough. I don’t think the people doing this understand that using secondary quotes to label a book in this way is problematic in itself.