So I get into a conversation or at least I’m having a rant, finding anything tangible to grip onto with my partner N’s family.
N’s brother’s girlfriend, who is over with other members of the his family is going to do an arts degree. In a world filled with tradies and even bumper stickers professing the love of tradies I wanted to stand up for the arts students. Again. A literature degree?
A double major in Literature? Why? How will that guarantee a job? What career? Teaching?
Hmm. I never thought of the career. I thought of the books and the classes filled with passionate discussion, which happened, less than I wanted. Here I was, not even slightly drunk on white wine attempting to speak to stand up for the critically endangered species of the Literature student. Why? They look at me in my rented house, with my mis-matching cutlery and chairs that are broken but covered in fabrics, and they can’t fathom the reason. But I didn’t stop there. I went on to do a Masters of Poetry. And in-between thought it would be a good thing to do a Grad cert in editing and publishing. Hmm.
Why? What trade do you possess? What trumpet do you blow?
According to the Melbourne University’s Website regarding the outcomes of a student who has undertaken a Masters in English Literature, these are some of the following skills and achievements acquired listed at the bottom of this piece. While I urge all literature students to address these skills and essential outcomes let’s remember some of the basic wonders of taking on such a degree as a Literature degree.
I formed the most intimate long-lasting relationships with books that transformed my world. Made me a better listener, made me a better writer, a better person. Ideas that carry across the ages, ideas I contest, ideas not worth knowing, ideas worth applauding.
Books transformed the small cubicle of knowing into a vast multi-dimentional hatchery of worlds. Books intersect with other books. I am able to live a thousand lives in a small human lifetime. I am able to feel more deeply through the complex rich interwoven experiences of characters from other times, in other situations. And I am able to feel the power of words. I am a traveller, I engage in a book on so many levels. I will read a book even if I don’t like the story, just for the words, just because a book forces me to read differently. The words change the reading style, the words manage the characters, like P.R agents, only better. The words force me into an uncomfortable reading style that I learn to adjust to. How wonderful. Joyce did that. Ulysses was able to change the way we engage with a text. To move into streams of consciousness, to melt the lines between what one is thinking and one is saying. Joyce forces you to approach a book differently. It’s not just style, no it’s content of course. What about Duras? Look at her style, like a tailored outfit with a few wine stains. A beautifully cut style of writing. The content? The ego and the other. The ego and the other’s relationship. Whether it be mother/daughter, ego/brother, ego/lover, or a meshing of all of them. Those lines cut. Those short sharp dark printed lines where you know the ending from the beginning. But she’s going to tell you anyway. Just like when you fall in love and you know it’s going to be fucking painful when you break-up, but no matter. The story, that narrative, those sharp lines are going to tell you how it once was. Like a woman just before she gets really drunk. Marguerite Duras, on her second drink, not sloshed, but warmed up, her memory in-accurate but fiercely independent.
I have a strong sense of intellectual integrity and the ethics of scholarship
I have in-depth knowledge of their specialist discipline(s)
I have reached a high level of achievement in writing, generic research activities, problem-solving and communication
I am a critical and creative thinker, with an aptitude for continued self-directed learning
I am an adept at learning in a range of ways, including through information and communication technologies
I am knowledgeable across disciplines:
and I examine critically, synthesise and evaluate knowledge across a broad range of disciplines
I have expanded my analytical and cognitive skills through learning experiences in diverse subjects
I have the capacity to participate fully in collaborative learning and to confront unfamiliar problems
I have a set of flexible and transferable skills for different types of employment
I initiate and implement constructive change in my community, including professions and workplaces
I have excellent interpersonal and decision-making skills, including an awareness of personal strengths and limitations
I mentor future generations of learners
I engage in meaningful public discourse, with a profound awareness of community needs
I value different cultures
I am a well-informed citizen able to contribute to their communities wherever they choose to live and work