Reading All The TimeWell, this one's pretty obvious. Whether you like it or not, if you aim to become a literature student, you will have to make reading a daily, rather hourly, habit. Be it a play, a ballad, a short story, an ode, an epic, or a mock-heroic, you must never grimace at the thought of reading something. Further, it is highly advisable to keep some sort of reading material with you at all times, if you want to maintain that image of a “literature student”.
Analytical SkillsI know what you’re thinking. No, I am not joking, in fact, I am very very serious when I say that the analytical skills are very essential for a literature student. In order to fully understand and appreciate the beauty of the text, you must know how to analyze the true meaning of the writer’s words. Since most writers of literary texts would not be alive, you will have to do your research on the currents of the writer’s era (be it regarding the politics, the economics, the culture or the religion of that era) and the writer’s own character in order to be empowered to read between the lines and decipher the true intention behind his/her words.
Ability To Sacrifice SleepLet me make one thing very clear, if you are a person whose love for sleep is eternal (and thus cannot sacrifice their beauty sleep at any cost), then you should know that you aren’t cut out for studying English Literature. Studying English Literature entails spending many sleepless nights, flipping over texts that seem endless. On top of it, if you are blessed with a teaching system like mine, you will always have another assignment piled up as soon as you finish one. With all assignments, pre-reading, post-reading, additional reading and preparations for exams, the eight-hour sleep will exist only in your memories.
Superior Tolerance LevelsLiterature constitutes a form of art and art is a way of expressing thoughts, feelings, beliefs, prejudices, rituals and cultures. So, the pieces of text that you will be assigned will present views and opinions that might contradict your beliefs. You will have to read the texts with an open mind, remembering that the norms in your society (or era) might be different from the norms of the society (or the era) that the writer lived in. As a Literature student, you must read and understand what is being conveyed through the text, though you may choose to agree or disagree with the opinion presented (or the stance taken). Also, if you’re studying English Literature in India, you will need divine tolerance levels to bear all those “Why are you studying English if you’re so intelligent?” with a polite smile on your face.
MultitaskingAs you’ve probably guessed by now, a literature student always falls short of 24 hours a day. Since it is impossible to extend the day beyond 24 hours, we try to extend our time by multitasking. For example, you can read your text assigned for pre-reading while you’re commuting to college and similarly, finish your post-reading while you go back home from college. You could also download audio books of your texts and listen to them while you’re doing household chores.
SelflessnessThough you might not realize it in the beginning, it takes a great amount of selflessness to be a literature student in India. This is because if you live in a typical Indian society, your relatives will only remember you the day their son/daughter needs to write an essay on some weird topic and is unable to write it. Add the emotional blackmail and the “literature students are always free” tag and you’ll be in a trap with no means of escape.
Written by Aneri Doshi
What makes my heart race? Books, Coffee and Rain