Majoring in English Literature: The Facts

Only two reasons could have compelled you to click on this post; you are either thinking of picking English literature as a major or still contemplating whether or not you made the right choice by choosing it as a major. Well, you are in the right place because this blog is here to convince you why majoring in English Literature is the right choice and how beneficial it can be for you. You might think that I’m being a bit overconfident with my claim that I can convince you by the end of this post, but I’m certain that my personal experience as an English Literature student will give you an insight into the fascinating world of literature. Let’s start with the most basic information that you need to know about literature.

What is Literature?

Literature has no universally accepted definition that perfectly encompasses the subject. In fact, no definition does justice to the subject as a whole. The most common definition that you will find is ‘Literature is a written work in any form.’ However, that definition becomes debatable when poem recitals and dramas are also considered part of literature.

Some people might envision the classic image of old and dusty books that were once recognized as masterpieces as what we call ‘literature’, but we have a problem here, a book might be a masterpiece for one person, but ordinary for another. Not forgetting the fact that several great works of literature were recognized as ‘masterpieces’ a great time after the demise of their writers. From Emily Dickinson to John Keats many writers whose works are considered a hallmark of literature were rejected repeatedly by the publishers of their time. Thus, literature itself is not a collection of popular writings which may be due to several reasons.

One of which is the fact that literature does not focus on just one specific area, instead it comprises the studies of Philosophy, Psychology, Science, History, Geography, and many other fields. It molds them into one cohesive, appealing, and inimitable masterpiece. Therefore, there have been many debates and discussions on the definition of literature, but to no avail. A clear definition has not been mapped out.

Thus, the meaning of literature depends on how you define it and everyone has the right to decide what it is to them. For me literature means any piece of work that provokes an emotion or leaves an impression; it can be any piece, realistic, or abstract. The beauty of literature is that it lets you decide what you want from it.

Why Literature?

So, why should you choose English literature as your major? Having literature in our lives gives us better insight into who we are. When you study the emotions and stories of millions of people around the world, you develop a sense of attachment to them. A person who yearns for books can read dozens of books without getting bored. The emotions that those scribbled words imbue in a reader is something that only a good piece of literature can do. The value of literature lies not only in the deep personal effect words can have but also how critiquing it can open up a completely different world to you. In other words, you diving deep into the author’s world may shine some light on your own emotions and feelings.

Just like that literature has the power to take you away from the real world into the fictional world. A world that may be vastly different from reality but one that feels like home for the reader. 

The world of literature is so vast that you can never traverse it fully even if you read every single book that exists. In literature, not every question has an answer and if you do get an answer it is not absolute. So, when you study literature only your interpretation matters.

Personally, I have read countless books, critiqued many texts, and contemplated a number of poems but every piece of work has left a unique impression on me. By reading books, you don’t just read an author’s work, you explore their blood, sweat, and tears in the text and when you find the hidden meanings between the lines, you feel like you have accomplished something great. Literature has given me a sense of belonging, by allowing me to relate to the words of fictional characters more than a real person.  Reading is like therapy, it can solve dozens of problems in your life. Even if the work is written in a different century, you can still connect with it because the experiences portrayed and the emotions tied to them are timeless. Hence, literature allows you to form a bond with people and events that you were not a part of. It can help you experience everything from the luxuries of the Roman empire to the brutalities of World War II.

Professions in Literature?

For most of you reading, this might be the sole reason why you decided to click on this article so let me get to it. What is the scope of English Literature in Pakistan? A hard-pressing question no doubt, many of you may have had this discussion with your relatives already. Many people think that there is no definite profession for those who pursue a degree in Arts. Well, to be blunt they could not be more wrong. No matter how many people try to convince you that English Literature has no scope in this country, you have to ignore them because it does.

The current professions for an English Literature graduate in Pakistan include:

  • Technical writing
  • Content writing
  • Blog writing
  • Working for newspapers or magazines as an editor or author
  • Editor for an author
  • Scriptwriting
  • Author

Since we are a developing country, there are many opportunities we can create from our own innovative ideas and help develop this profession ourselves. You can help this profession flourish as long as you keep an open mind.

An avid reader and writer who knows how to instill emotions in people merely by using their pen are bound to be a successful author. If you not only enjoy literature for what it is but have a keen desire to read and critique fellow writers you are on the right path.

If the magic of those scribbled words forces you to keep your drooping eyes open as you finish an entire book in one day then my friend you are meant to be in this field. If you find yourself analyzing Jane Eyre from the perspective of Mr. Rochester’s wife and how she was the real victim in that story then you are indeed a reader with a perspective. If nothing will give you more pleasure than looking at your first piece of published writing on the best sellers list then don’t give up and don’t listen to the people around you who cannot see your potential.

There is a very famous line from the movie ‘Dead Poet’s Society’, “Medicine, law, business, engineering; these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love these are what we stay alive for.”

Literature has been around since the dawn of civilization, it embodies humanity’s successes and failures through its expression of tragedies and comedies. To this day, I don’t regret choosing English Literature as my major, and neither will you. Literature is more than just quoting Shakespeare or Jane Austen, it is a world populated by the countless voices and experiences of people. A world within a world, unheard and hidden in the works of fiction and non-fiction. Waiting for you to understand what it has to offer.

Written by: Nimra Javed

About the Author

A literature student who loves to read and write about different literary genres. I have keen interest towards drama and theatre. My passion and love for literature motivates me to share my experience with the world.

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