English literature is a popular major in educational institutes across the US. Lots of students enroll each year because of its diverse disposition and numerous graduate opportunities.
English literature includes history's most widely recognized writers: William Shakespeare (England), James Joyce (Ireland), Mark Twain (US), Ernest Hemmingway (US), Vladimir Nabokov (Russia), Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Colombia), and Orphan Pamuk (Turkey) to name just a few.
English literature became an educational discipline six centuries ago. It represents writers from various periods and regions and also covers every essential style and genre of writing.
With such a wide field of study, potential students are often skeptical about how useful English literature is as a degree.
Apart from the various niche opportunities, you can become a researcher, writer, or teacher with a literature degree.
It can also help sharpen your cognitive and practical abilities. Build on a literature degree with legal courses to become a good lawyer, or add to it with SEO courses to begin a digital marketing career.
Whatever interests you most, English literature can be the gateway to reach and fulfill your career goals.
What Is English Literature As A Degree?
When you study English Literature as a degree, you'll learn to analyze descriptive texts and decipher context. Apart from this, it will help you write manuscripts and improve your usage of various styles.
Typically, literature studies include several writing types such as novels, poetry, non-fiction, dramas, and theater plays.
However, this list will keep evolving as new communication mediums give birth to various kinds of modern literature.
English literature is generally described as writing infused with creative merit. Still, non-fiction, screenplays, song lyrics, and blogs can also fall under the category of literature in the contemporary sense.
However, most English literature degree programs in American colleges will mainly focus on conventional literary texts.
If you choose literature as a major, expect your classes to be centered around drama, prose, fiction, and poetry.
Studying Literature Vs. Reading-For-Pleasure
If you decide to study English literature in America, you'll learn to read various texts to decipher hidden or apparent context. Additionally, you'll learn to write concisely, analytically, and clearly in different styles and forms.
Typically, a literature course is divided into American Literature, British Literature, pre-1800 to post 2000 periods, and World literature.
You'll have introductory courses in these and many other themes, and towards the end of your degree, you will have to choose a focal point of your interest, like drama or creative writing.
It is easier for students to analytically dissect a complex passage in a focused literature class than through self-study or individual sessions.
Not to mention you can also express your views through a presentation, class discussion, and written analysis.
What Sort Of Things Will You Study In English Literature Courses?
English literature courses may vary widely from college to university. A conventional class will focus on standard writings, renaissance era authors, and medieval scripts like Old English.
On the other hand, newer courses will emphasize more on popular literature, post-colonial literature, or children's literature.
Nevertheless, here are a few shared aspects of every English Literature class:
Literary Genres Or Periods
The majority of courses you'll take in your first two years will aim to acquaint you with different forms of texts of a specific literary genre or period, such as Modernism, development of Sci-fi, or Romanticism.
You may find a few courses that delve into extreme narratives and unrelated genres. On the other hand, some courses focus on a specific literature source, for instance, Female authors of the British Civil War.
Specific Texts Or Specific Authors
Another kind of literature course you may study in your class is the single-writer course, where you'll read everything about one author: their style, dialogue, influences, and inspiration.
In addition to that, you may also find literature courses that focus on a single piece of writing for the entire term (for undergraduate levels, it will typically be for comprehensive works such as Ulysses).
If you struggled to understand Chaucer in high school literature class, you might be disheartened to know that his works are known to be comparatively easier to grasp.
Most college-level literature classes will expect you to read his work rather than 'translating' as you might have done in school.
At this level, you could be expected to read and examine excerpts written in Old English. Additionally, at master's level or before it, some classes may even expect you to learn Old English before starting the course material.
And rather dauntingly, some courses may require you to understand texts written in Gothic, medieval French, or Old Norse.
However, ancient languages are now more popular in traditional courses, while less conventional literature courses will emphasize modern writings.
Creative writing is an increasingly popular subject. Although it was once rejected as an academic discipline, many reputable colleges now provide creative writing as an optional course for English Literature majors.
Its modules are diverse; you can either learn to emulate the writing style of some of the most notable authors in history or learn to write according to industry requirements to help hone your creative abilities.
Why Should You Study Literature In The First Place?
Choosing a degree program – whether English Literature or else – shouldn't only be about a job you get afterward.
Although it's wise to plan for the future, if you opt for a degree because it leads to a job, you may end up investing in something you aren't interested in. In this case, you will find it extremely difficult to keep motivating yourself.
Additionally, many people switch degrees half-way through or realize they want to pursue another profession; therefore, it's good to keep your choices open by choosing a degree that will only enhance another degree, like English literature.
Reading about individuals, their ideas, and their motives for doing things helps understand people and yourself. It's counter-productive to presume works written four centuries back are old and obsolete; we tend to forget that humans didn't change a bit.
Although we have more technology than before, the emotions and issues people face today are the same as those felt by Shakespeare's characters.
This is why The Merchant of Venice is still a relatable piece of comedic writing, and also why we are still fascinated by the 'Romeo & Juliet' love story.
Apart from that, English literature also provides you with an authentic reading experience. Studying poetry penned during WW1, for instance, shows what it was like to be in trenches.
Furthermore, books such as 1984, Animal Farm, and Utopia by George Orwell and Thomas More let readers view society through a different lens.
A critical analysis of various authors and their texts will help widen your vocabulary and improve your writing skills. You can compare plays to theatre performances and novels to movie adaptions while enjoying the process.
Learn English Literature With A Private English Tutor!
In essence, literature is a holistic collection of the human experience. And as a degree program, you can find it in most colleges throughout the US.
No matter your major, English programs are essential in US institutions as all students are expected to obtain compositional writing abilities.
One of the most effective ways to study English literature is through private literature lessons. And there is no better platform to achieve that than Superprof!
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