There is no dearth of assumptions made about students pursuing English.
The students of English apparently have it easy because one gets to ‘just‘ read novels and write long creative answers, and do not have to mug facts or formulas. English students supposedly also have a special relationship with the FabIndia Kurta. Also, all of them are closeted poets, aren’t they? You will also almost always find them discussing philosophies, writers and their writings, and enthusiastically justifying their understanding of literary history over ‘chai‘ in the canteen, right?
Wrong. (Okay, maybe not the last one!).
We asked around students, professors and parents, and compiled a list of seriously flawed notions that exist regarding the students of English Honours. One inadvertently ends up assuming a lot of things, when they hear the words ‘English Honours’. A few of them are:
Flashy Students in a Flashy course
Most students tend to assume that pursuing English Honours is flamboyant in an obnoxious-sort-of-way. Maybe the root of this perception lies in the fact that the society puts English language on a higher pedestal, and ends up evaluating a person’s skills and talent, based solely on his/her fluency in the language. Thus, naturally the next thought is, that someone who is studying JUST English, all day, full day, must definitely be ostentatious, and have an air of superiority around them. Oh, how wrong are thou! English is just another liberal arts course, that needs to be treated as such.
The Big Nerds
Perhaps the fact that several English Honours students regularly visit the library, and get books issued, on their own accord sustain this stereotype. They are assumed to be innately studious, and of course must carry a book in their hands all the time. It becomes critical to understand that this is HOW they are supposed to study. Yes, the books to be read are pre-defined in the syllabus, but reading up authors from the same era, and understanding counter-arguments is what forms a major part of the course. Instead of rushing to the library a week before the exam, English Honours student need to, and end up, making the library their Mecca.
By the virtue of the texts studied, English Honours students often end up forming their perception of the world through the lens of philosophy, history and literature. Problem arises when they read between the lines too much, and push the button of people who do not share the ideology. Thus, they come across as, unintentionally so, a rebel, a revolutionary or in some cases, as a fanatic. Since the students ponder so much about ‘how things were/how things should be’, and constantly problematize issues hidden to the regular eye, they are often written off (pun intended) as ‘thinkers’, with miminal experience of the ‘real’ world.
All they study about, is SEX!
An indelible mark in the parents’ view, apparently all novels are sexual in nature, provoke students to have sex, and are vulgar. Period. While, it is true that literature is filled with sexual anecdotes, explicit and subtle, and explores romantic relationships in depth, it would be naive to paint the picture in a single brush-stroke and blame the subject. For the record, eroticas are NOT a part of the course structure, so all the parents can relax.
‘Future’ hi nahi hai koi!
Last but far from least is the assumption of doing ‘Nothing’ after pursuing this discipline. Students who fail to qualify for professional degrees and grudgingly take up English, also harbour this assumption. However, it is comical to pay heed to such misconceptions because English opens a varied realm of career opportunities, ranging from content writing, journalism, developmental work, and film-making and whatnot, where one just has to be wise enough to single out their passion.