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A future in Literature
By Jennifer Bailey
While there’s more to an English literature degree than reading hefty novels until your eyes go crossed, it would make good sense to say that reading and analyzing written works is likely to be central to your studies and something you must enjoy and have a passion for. Not only would obtaining a degree in Literature mean extensive reading but you would also spend a notable amount of time scrutinizing and debating a variety of texts, as well as learning literary trends, periods and important approaches that have shaped literature of today and how it is viewed.
Did you know that English literature has developed over the last 15 centuries from the Anglo-Saxon period to the present and is the largest body of literature written in a modern language?
At the undergraduate level, this major includes in-depth and wide-ranging exposure to literature from both British and American contributors. Your extensive reading would include works from the greatest authors, but you would also become familiar with the works of lesser-known authors including poets, essayists, playwrights, novelists and historians.
Degrees in English literature typically have a foundation in topics such as medieval literature, 19th-century poets or 20th-century British plays. You would also take full courses about individual authors such as Chaucer, Shakespeare, T.S. Eliot, Joyce, Keats, and Shelley or topics such as Beowulf, the 18th-century British novel, African-American literature or women’s literature. You might also take courses in literary theory, literary research, problems of modern literature and independent study.
If you choose to study English literature, you will definitely develop comprehensive written and verbal communication skills, becoming skilled at arguing a point, framing a narrative and analyzing various levels of meaning. Another arm of the marketing field is in public relations. In this area you would have a similar goal but use different techniques. You would be in charge of projecting and maintaining a positive image for the organization or client you work for.
As you can see, this field has much to offer those who are relational, passionate and driven.
Perhaps you love the written word and want to pursue this degree program but are asking yourself: "what can I do with a literature degree once I graduate?" The answer to this question is better than you might think as English degree graduates can be found in more or less every industry filling a variety of roles – from editor to academic and legal advisor to manager.
Literature degree graduates are often found where strong communication and written English skills are very important such as in media and publishing but also in archiving, writing, book selling, information and research, tourism, events management, social work, research/library, acting, youth work, probation work, human resources, teaching, retail management and sales.
Encompassing many smaller industries, the media sector covers everything from film to television, newspapers to news blogs, advertising to PR and more. Depending on your specific area of interest, there’s a niche for just about any graduate whether you want to produce, write, edit, review, schedule, promote, manage or run.
Be aware that careers in media can be very competitive but to give yourself an edge up on the competition, you should consider gaining valuable work experience during your studies – interning is a good way to get a feel for different options and will be a boost for your long-term career goals.
For example, if you want to go into publishing, you will likely need experience in a similar environment, either from an internship or even involvement with a student publication, such as your university newsletter, magazine or website. Also consider a media blog and an active social media platform.