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What do you think about having a degree in English Literature?


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First of all let me apologize for inserting some celebrity news in this post. It's just that Emma Watson graduated with a degree in English literature and there are so many comments on the internet about it. I can't believe so many people are saying how useless her degree is. I mean, she's an actress, what do they expect her to take? It seems to me that her degree is pretty relevant to her line of work. What do you think?

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Weeelll.... I honestly think that degree is useless, specially here.  But for her?  Who cares!  She is a famous actress, so she won't ever have to worry about getting a real job (if she is smart enough).

It's nice she wanted to go to college tho, not many people in her field even care about getting an education, even a degree as useless as English literature (please not that by useless I meant useless if you mean to find a job with that degree alone, since it seems that lately not even a PhD will do...).  I say kudos to her!  She might never use it, but oh well... she got her degree :)  Now she can say she went to college!

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I think her getting a degree in English Literature could be an asset in her line of work. For one, she can be more creative at what she does and also it opens up opportunities for her to do other jobs such as writing TV/movie scripts.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I would not go so far as to say a degree in English literature is "useless."  I do think that from a pragmatic, career perspective it might not be an obvious asset unless one wants to pursue a career in academia at the college level or perhaps even as a teacher in grade school or high school -- you would have to get a teaching certificate for that, of course.

But it does harken back to the days when having a liberal arts education had much more value for the development of character and perhaps too as a springboard for lifelong learning and a passion for attaining knowledge. 

With college being so expensive nowadays it's really become much more difficult to justify the expense if there's not a tangible reward, as in being able to get a job to pay off all those student loans!

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  • 1 month later...

No college degree is worthless. Anyone that gets a diploma put a lot of effort into it, so you cannot just call his effort worthless. While you might have a problem getting a job with an English degree, you studied something that interests you, and this is the most important.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have a degree in Journalism. It is a pretty good degree to have, but I want to learn more. In fact, when I relocate next year, I am planning to study English Literature. I never thought this course is useless because literature is very important for me. It shapes and preserves culture, and it teaches other people many things. Literature has a very big part in my heart.  :wink:

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  • 2 weeks later...

First of all let me apologize for inserting some celebrity news in this post. It's just that Emma Watson graduated with a degree in English literature and there are so many comments on the internet about it. I can't believe so many people are saying how useless her degree is. I mean, she's an actress, what do they expect her to take? It seems to me that her degree is pretty relevant to her line of work. What do you think?

Lol, no problem re: the celebrity news. It's actually perfectly relevant! I have always marveled at the fact that certain degrees are "belittled" and viewed as "less-than-necessary", or less likely to result in a profitable career if relied on alone.

I love the art of English Literature, as I find it to the be one of the most complex and worthwhile courses to partake in and to be influenced by. English Literature ought to viewed with more dignity and respect , as it really does challenge the mind's ability to analyze and truly "take apart" characters, themes, setting, and other thought-provoking elements that are infused within English Literature.

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  • 2 weeks later...

It really depends on the career path of the person. I don't blame her for taking an English course, she is indeed an actress and she may or may not need it. Also she's pretty much settled for life, even if she gets a crappy degree it's very unlikely that she'll run out of money in her whole life I think.

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I don't think it's useless. There will always be a need for people who are experts on one thing or another, and literature is actually one of the more important things to pass on. If there weren't any literature experts then we probably wouldn't have knowledge about Shakespeare anymore at this point and he would have been long forgotten. It's probably because it's not a very glamorous title, but I think it is important nonetheless.

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For her line of work as an actress, I couldn't think of many other degress that would be more beneficial for furthering her career as an actress and possibly a future writer or director.

For everyone else though, a degree in English literature means you're going the academia route and/or going to become an English teacher at some level. Other than that, there's just not many jobs in the field that relate to the degree. It stinks that college prices dictate what your major often is to justify the cost rather than study what the person would like to do.

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I don't think that any degree is worthless, it just depends on what you do with it.  For her line of work, a degree in English Literature is smart.  She is an actress from the United Kingdom.  The U.K. seems to love their literary history (as they should) and many, many films out of the U.K. (and even the U.S.) are based in English literature and/or history.

For the average person, I think a degree in English Literature is only beneficial if they intend to teach at a university level.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I think that any kind of education is never wasted. It does not matter whether it is used in real life or not. The purpose of education according to me is increasing the thinking capacity of the learner. A degree in English literature is perfect for an artist who will have an added advantage over others who have not mastered the language.

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  • 1 month later...

Of course that literature is relevant! You can’t say that you know a language unless you’ve read the works written in that language. And I am sorry to say, but reading outside of the class doesn’t really count. How much of Dickens’ perspective of the world and the reasons behind his writing can you figure out on your own? Not much, I’d say. We all enjoy reading a good book from time to time, but what you get from leisure reading is very small when compared to class discussions and teacher’s guidance. There’s always something that you learn. Always! No matter how good you are at English, how smart or how diligent. There are simply some answers that can’t be found on Wikipedia, SparkNotes and such websites. Even reading critical works can be exhausting and still leave you with questions, and that if you think about asking them.

What about Virginia Woolf? James Joyce? I’d like to see someone reading Joyce without the help of a teacher. It’s practically impossible. What of Renaissance? Who had written in English during the period of Renaissance? Or Neo-Classisicm? Romanticism? The Age of Sensationalism? Avant-garde? Modernism? Or even a better question is how many people can actually count (and tell you about) at least four works written in English prior to Renaissance - without help of Google and all those little toys that are used nowadays, simply by using their high-school knowledge. What’s the meaning of those early works? In what form of language were they written? Or Chaucer? We all know about The Canterbury Tales, correct? What about Troilus and Criseyde? Shakespeare had a play with the same name (only it’s Troilus and Cressida), by the way - and the story is from the antiquity, which brings me to another question - the importance of the familiarity with the antiquity and the Bible, which can be crucial for understanding many scenes in many books. I’ll even take names of the poets - fifteen poem titles of any period in the history prior to modernism they don’t even have to be that important to the mainstream trend of the particular age. All of this is a part of the syllabus of the English literature. And then there’s history. I won’t even start talking about that, for if I do, I’d never get to finish.

Are three years of my life lost? Wasted? If studying literature was so meaningless, getting the degree wouldn’t last five years at the university, it would be only mentioned in one semester and you’d be done with it! Same is with everything else. You can’t label something simply because it isn’t practical. What would you say about philosophy then? Or sociology? I can name any of the humanities. What about getting a degree in... let’s say... music? mathematics? Or biology? Or history? Are all of these degrees useless? If yes, then how come many of the prestigious colleges offer these degrees? ‘She’s an actress, it can be of use to her’ - excuse me, and to the rest of the people it isn’t? Why do you read literature then? Why do you read novels and stories and such? It’s useless, don’t bother. Go play a video game or find summary on the Internet. It’s practically the same (I’m being sarcastic).

‘What is she studying?’ ‘Oh, it’s just literature’ - so people who study literature do nothing for those five years of college? They just talk and enjoy the leisure... I do beg your pardon! I have so many books on my reading list that I am overwhelmed! I read so much that I am starting to dislike it! I used to enjoy reading! I adored it in high school. When I was younger, my usual average during the summer was 40 books per month! I read them for enjoyment and yet I can’t say much about what I’d read. Now I can’t even think of an author without remembering some of the things mentioned in the class and it’s frustrating! And on top of all those numerous novels we read, we also have other subjects to study, so more reading. Last year I had learnt 1000+ pages of American history. 1000 pages! IN DETAIL! That’s the number of pages you get in average on an exam. So is passing that exam less valuable than for example passing a subject at law school or economy? Why? I have studied for that exam. I have studied for hours and weeks and months - throughout the whole semester, I had studied that subject! I had studied it so much that I thought about it every day - even when I was on my way to the university, I found myself repeating some silly facts I’d remembered. That subject was economy, law, literature, history, philosophy, sociology, culture all in one. Culture, yes! Goodness, culture!!

I am very bothered by this. I found myself highly offended by this question. What you study is a matter of choice. With my grades, I could have studied anything I wanted. And I did. I do. I chose literature. That doesn’t make my efforts any lesser than those of someone studying economy or business and it shouldn’t be different from me having chosen pharmaceutical studies or medicine. I am not a lesser person for choosing literature over something else. We all have difficult subjects, easy subjects, subjects you like, subjects you hate, subjects you wish you never had, subjects which are a piece of cake, subjects which we find irrelevant, subjects we barely pass, and so on. Even if you choose to be a teacher - not everyone can be a teacher. It’s a job which requires a lot of dedication, patience and giving - and definitely a lot of time you spend while specialising for the degree. If there were no teachers, we’d have no colleges, no school, no education. And then what?

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So is passing that exam less valuable than for example passing a subject at law school or economy? Why? I have studied for that exam. I have studied for hours and weeks and months - throughout the whole semester, I had studied that subject! I had studied it so much that I thought about it every day - even when I was on my way to the university, I found myself repeating some silly facts I’d remembered. That subject was economy, law, literature, history, philosophy, sociology, culture all in one. Culture, yes! Goodness, culture!!

I am very bothered by this. I found myself highly offended by this question. What you study is a matter of choice. With my grades, I could have studied anything I wanted. And I did. I do. I chose literature. I am not a lesser person for choosing literature over something else. We all have difficult subjects, easy subjects, subjects you like, subjects you hate, subjects you wish you never had, subjects which are a piece of cake, subjects which we find irrelevant, subjects we barely pass, and so on. Even if you choose to be a teacher - not everyone can be a teacher. It’s a job which requires a lot of dedication, patience and giving - and definitely a lot of time you spend while specialising for the degree. If there were no teachers, we’d have no colleges, no school, no education. And then what?

I am not sure whether you were offended by the question people ask you as to why you chose literature or offended by the original question in this thread. If it is the latter, it wasn't meant to offend. Though I don't blame you for feeling offended, especially with the hard time people have been giving you about your course of choice. It's good that you included the practical aspects of studying literature, as I imagine a lot of people do think it is not very practical.

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It's both really. People think you don't do anything while you're actually studying so much and reading so much you feel tired all the time. This year, we're also doing some poetry and I can't tell you how relieved I am. It's so much easier than reading pages and pages of a novel and never knowing on what your teacher will focus. Reading is no longer fun, trust me.

We have practical classes half the time - so it's only half theory. There's a lot of things being done and you're constantly questioned about the novels, authors, et cetera. I really like literature, I do, but sometimes I can barely wait for holidays. I haven't read a single book for fun in three years. I have come to dislike the thought of reading for fun. I believe I'll need a good few years of ''no reading phase'' as I call it, in order to finally feel inspired by reading. I do read occasionally, but never a novel. It seems like too valiant a feat, too ambitious. I guess it's only natural.

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  • 2 weeks later...

It's both really. People think you don't do anything while you're actually studying so much and reading so much you feel tired all the time..... I really like literature, I do, but sometimes I can barely wait for holidays. I haven't read a single book for fun in three years. I have come to dislike the thought of reading for fun.

---HUGS!!!--- I truly feel your passion for Literature from the previous post. I wasn't exposed to literature until I entered high school. It was through my beloved teachers who managed to explain in super details the books in our reading list that Literature somehow grew on me. Discussing about Shakespeare made me thought about taking up English Lit in college, too. Unfortunately, practicality got the better of me. No - scratch that. It wasn't practicality because I eventually took up Psychology, which to many was not also 'practical'. In our country, you'll normally end up an HR Practioner if you have this degree. Psych is also considered one of the 'easy' degrees in our school - at least to the outsiders. But like what you just described, we had SO MANY books to read, not to mention published journals. So, I'm very WITH you in saying that there's NO college degree that's ever worthless, English Literature included.

I hope you'll get your inspiration to read back after your much needed 'no reading phase'.

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---HUGS!!!--- I truly feel your passion for Literature from the previous post. I wasn't exposed to literature until I entered high school. It was through my beloved teachers who managed to explain in super details the books in our reading list that Literature somehow grew on me. Discussing about Shakespeare made me thought about taking up English Lit in college, too. Unfortunately, practicality got the better of me. No - scratch that. It wasn't practicality because I eventually took up Psychology, which to many was not also 'practical'. In our country, you'll normally end up an HR Practioner if you have this degree. Psych is also considered one of the 'easy' degrees in our school - at least to the outsiders. But like what you just described, we had SO MANY books to read, not to mention published journals. So, I'm very WITH you in saying that there's NO college degree that's ever worthless, English Literature included.

I hope you'll get your inspiration to read back after your much needed 'no reading phase'.

Exactly! This is my point exactly! All degrees are valuable. All subjects are difficult in their own way. Someone doesn't understand physics, no matter, it can also happen that someone doesn't understand economy, literature or psychology. They all require us to think in order to achieve something, one way or another. And you certainly must make a lot of sacrifices to get a degree - with reasonably good grades.

The problem is that people outside our circles don't know the real extent to which we make these sacrifices and immerse ourselves into the books and texts required. Sometimes passing one of these subjects can be very difficult with all those books to read... there's so much that sometimes you don't even have the time to read all of the obligatory works, let alone fifteen of ''suggested'' ones...

Unfortunately, I've not yet the luxury of ''no reading phase'', so... As soon as my exams are over, though, I'll see to it. I think I deserve a break.

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  • 9 months later...

I don't understand why people would think that a degree in English Literature is useless. I mean, what do they know about it? If Emma Watson has huge passion for literature, then let her do what she wants to do, let her pursue what she loves the most. And yes, I do think it is highly related to her career as an actress. I know a lot of celebrities who have also majored in English Literature.

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  • 3 weeks later...

To each his/her own. I wouldn't begrudge anyone who pursues such a degree. If it floats their boat, then why not? In fact, back in high school, AB English was my first choice. However, my mom told me I could still read and write literature for as long as I like even if I take on another course. I heeded her advice and went for my second preferred degree: Political Science. No regrets thus far. It only reinforced my love for books and writing stories.

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