One to One – Goldsmiths English and Comparative Literature students and tutors in conversation

…’cause when I was president of the english society, and Diana was like ‘ooh, you need to go and chat to Lucia because she’s head of department and make sure you arrange some really good departmental events. Yeah, I remember that, and we talked about organising an evening when tutors would come in and talk about what really grabs them, what really interests them, how they got involved in literary studies and what really really makes you tick. I didn’t really know what to expect when I got here, and I found that it’s a really… The kind of atmosphere that it creates is just perfect for me, and perfect for the way I work and the kind of things I’m interested in. All our academics and all our students go… Have these really unusual takes on things and different kind of perspectives. -I don’t
know whether that’s because creative writing as well as linguistics, as well as literary studies are all within the department, and we do contaminate each other a lot, but critical studies, linguistic studies, for us is something which has to be creative, imaginative, and the system of teaching that we have when we give you… We ask you to write essays and then we give you quite a lot of feedback, and then you have to rewrite the essay. I think it allows
you to to be more inventive, trying ideas out because if it doesn’t work it doesn’t
matter because you have a chance to revise it anyway if it didn’t work. -Receiving feedback can be kind of bittersweet sometimes and that you know it’s going to be so
constructive and you know that your essay’s gonna be so much better because of it, but
sometimes you read through it and your’e like ‘ugh… how did I make all these basic errors?!’… I got here and I was like, I like reading, I like Victorian literature, I just like books ’cause they’re nice to read, and then by second year I was sort of able to engage a lot more with the political backgrounds of them and
the historical backgrounds of them, and how those shaped the literature that I was reading, and by third year I feel like I just write about politics, I don’t know how much I write about literature anymore. I think you’re right when you say there’s so much emphasis on politics and history, historical context, but that’s always related to structure and form and the way that language is used, and in nuancing, and that’s really something that initially… It’s quite tough as you start the degree, a university degree, but then… Then it becomes second nature, and by the third year students have forgotten how tough it was at first because they just get excited by the discoveries of new material and new angles… The more we discuss them the more ideas we generate for ourselves as well. We talk a lot about research-led teaching but there’s also a lot
of teaching-led research in the sense that in the seminar ideas are generated. -It’s also given me a sense of confidence, like having to go into the seminar to be like ‘I’ve read the book and this is what I thought about this book’ and you know, ‘I actually disagree with what you’re saying there’, and actually… -And you have to say why! -Yeah, going forward and saying that and being able to go in and do that… Being critical and not
take anything for granted because you have to question it all. -Yeah, I think those
essential skills I got from the degree, I can then apply to my extracurricular activities. -And one of the things that we do, I hope we do is to have very friendly and open door type of policy, you can always come to see us when you have a problem but also when it’s not a problem, when you want to talk about anything… Are you one of those people that’s very methodical and you start from first paragraph then second, third and all… -Yeah, I work through, I do like the main body and work through an order and then… -Ok, yeah. That’s very organised. I write stream of
consciousness – anything that goes through my mind, and then I just spend hours rearranging it, so usually the first draft is…

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