“Over the three years, studying English Honours at the University of Delhi has definitely made me a better person and thinker. I have become both sensitive and critical.”
Three years ago, I would have danced away to glory on chittiyan kalaiyaan. It has some catchy lyrics and peppy music. Today, I am mostly concerned about the strong tones of sexism and racism in the song. I cannot help it; I am going to be an English Honours graduate soon.
Before starting my graduation, English honours was supposed to be just a course where I would be reading novels, plays and poems and life would have been a party. And then, I was in the classroom and asked to jot out themes in Pride and Prejudice. In my happy bubble, Pride and Prejudice was this utterly romantic story but soon, the bubble popped. I was in a class discussion pondering over the fact that Elizabeth Bennet, the protagonist of the classic ended up marrying the most handsome and rich boy in the novel even when she was least bothered about worldly wisdom. Why did everything turn out so convenient for her in the end? I was reading the novel with an entirely different perspective.
Over the three years, studying English Honours at the University of Delhi has definitely made me a better person and thinker. I have become both sensitive and critical. Reading a novel or a play has never been about that particular novel or play solely but about the author/playwright, their lives, the socio-economic and political scenarios of the time when these literary pieces were written. The various works of all the literary eras starting from Chaucer to Post modernism, when read in chronological order makes perfect sense. So with one book, sitting in one classroom, an English honours student gets to travel back in time to a place, hundreds and thousands of miles away and learn about all their history, the socio-economic and political scenario of that time; which is an enriching experience.
As an English honours aspirant, a student has a lot to explore and learn in this course. It definitely is a difficult course to score good marks but it offers a plethora of other things. You may be a bibliophile earlier, but the course gives you a perspective to understand the characters better, to analyze their situations and a chance to get to know their authors’ backstories and relate better. The course channelizes all the bibliophile energy within you. Not to forget, after you are through with your first year, there is an air of supremacy that envelopes you. People may mock you for; you are pursuing an arts course and would laugh at the possibility that studying some novels and poems could be challenging. But you smile to yourself because you don’t care what these un-intellectual people who don’t know the joys of studying literature think.*wink*
Most importantly, studying literature enhances the ability to question the predetermined norms and break away from the moulds of societal stereotypes and conventions, building an argumentative and critical mind which is sensitive to issues and problems faced by people the world over.
Usually, our perspectives take a one eighty degree turn after studying literature over the period of these three years, mine did. I am so glad that I decided to opt for English honours; it has been a great learning experience.
– Kangan Gupta (Editorial)