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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

English Majors Study Creative Writing (or, How to Look Like an Idiot)

Apparently some people read "getting a PhD in English" as "getting a PhD in creative writing." I find this hilarious because it demonstrates a profound ignorance of what studying English entails.

Things I don't do as a PhD student in English (that is as a necessary part of getting my degree):
--Meet up for weekly book clubs
--Join critique groups
--Learn how to write fiction
--Read fiction and nothing else
--Make up imaginary interpretations for books so that I can sound smart

What I actually do:
--Read fiction with the intention of understanding its impact on culture (vice versa) or its critiques or its various other components, which are important as product of culture
--Read philosophy, theory, history, politics, science, and other types of texts which are relevant to a cultural understanding of literature (in other words, everything relevant to a particular field)
--Write essays which incorporate these elements as part of the same argument. (Basically, almost all English studies are Cultural studies these days.)
--Anything related to these topics and not related to writing fiction, creative non-fiction, or other forms of non-argumentative of writing.

Odd how different they are, no?

What would you add to the lists?

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  1. I remember quite a few people off in the wild blue internet yonder though Liz Bourke's degree in Classics meant she studied classic works of literature, like Shakespeare and Tolstoy, for a living (and therefore, how could she *possibly* review genre fiction fairly.

    *Head. Meets. Desk.*

  2. That's how ignorance works. It supports previously held biases.