25 Things You Can Only Get Away With in a Literature Seminar
There are plenty of benefits to studying English Literature. Minimum contact hours, cheaper textbooks, eccentric lecturers and more. But perhaps best of all is the stuff you can get away with in seminars.
They were the best of times, they were the worst of times.
1. Needlessly dropping foreign words into sentences
Well, the novel clearly adopts the bildungsroman form while bringing in very nouvelle vague ideals.
2. Taking children’s books too seriously
Turns out that Peter Pan, Pinocchio and The Wizard of Oz weren’t written for children but for 50 year old critics.
3. Not actually reading anything
Shout out to SparkNotes, Wikipedia, CliffsNotes etc.
4. And also not even knowing the answer to something
In English Literature, everyone is correct as long as you say something.
5. Disagreeing with someone else’s answer
Yet that doesn’t stop you from thinking someone is wrong. Imagine arguing about an answer in Maths?
6. Name dropping
Authors, critics, philosophers, book shops, theorists, cities, painters, movements. Everything is game.
7. Wearing a turtle neck
Elbow patches, horn-rimmed glasses, corduroy and brogues also apply.
8. Just sitting and reading a novel
Hours and hours in class simply reading a book in silence.
Whether it’s an author, a theorist, your mate or even yourself. It’s all up for grabs.
10. Cinematic module titles
‘Centres and Edges: Modernist and Postcolonial Quest Literature’. True story.
11. Watching a film
For wider context, obviously.
12. Then spending the class criticising it for not being as good as the book
“I can’t believe they cut out literally the most important part.”
13. Having a text that is 100 years old
If someone studying Medicine turned up with a textbook bought from Oxfam and published in 1910 they would fail.
14. Reading intentionally difficult authors and not being called out on it
Who has time to read Proust and Joyce in the real world?
15. Same goes for poetry
No one has a copy of Keats in their gym bag.
16. The luxury of not being tied to a career
Meaning hours are spent idyllically daydreaming about your glamorous future.
17. Talking about your debut novel
Your parents don’t think it will be the best use of your time.
18. …or even worse, your poetry pamphlet
No-one outside of the seminar will think this will be the best use of your time.
19. Being able to discuss “The Canon”
And people not thinking you have a weird obsession with weaponry.
20. You can get away with criticising geniuses
“Jane Austen? She is just awful and don’t get me started on Dickens.”
21. Laughing at “mainstream” novels
Literature seminars are safe havens where everyone can sit around and laugh at people who read Dan Brown.
The only place in the world where the phrase doesn’t make people cringe. Same goes for Existentialism.
23. Literature jokes
So I tried out for a Samuel Beckett play and got cast as Godot.
24. Complain about your workload
For some reason your housemate studying Engineering never understands.
25. Falling in love with a character and admitting it
We’ll always have Nebraska, Ántonia.
Book clubs aren’t the same.