Giulia Monteverde is one of our Literary Studies students
"One of the reasons why I like Literary Studies so much is the fact that there is a lot of analytical thinking and logic involved. This satisfies me, since I graduated from a scientific school back in Italy. It is also interesting since I am considering doing a second Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Literary Studies would be very helpful if I decide that I want to become a psychologist, as there is a lot of psychology in literature as well. If you want to adequately analyse a literary work, you definitely have to be able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. You have to think a lot and train yourself to understand the perspectives of others.
The fact that we touched upon different fields within the subjects in the first year was really interesting. We researched how literature reflects our world. In the course Cultural Criticism, for example, we studied gender perspective and Posthumanism. It was a great way to find out my specific interest in the beginning. It is very useful for students who like literature but are not aware of the fact that there are subfields in every literary field as well.
I always know that if I am going to read something, it will offer me an interesting new view. Literary Studies changes the way I think. Whenever I watch a movie or read a book, I notice more patterns and messages than I used to. I have the tools for analysis that I am learning to use to thank for that. For example, we read the novel The Hours by Michael Cunningham during the course Close Reading. We used it as an example to learn how to identify recurring themes and linguistic patterns on a deeper level, for instance through the choice of specific words or metaphors. The course provided good tools to “read between the lines”. It was useful and enjoyable at the same time.
The debates in class are really interesting and give me a lot of food for thought. We debate about books and poems, but also about literary works in relation to issues in society. Unfortunately, because of the limited time of each course, we do not always thoroughly discuss each text in my opinion. That is a pity. However, I recognise that if the professor would only choose one book to analyse on a deeper level, it would not offer us enough perspective. It really is a matter of balance and opinion."
Julia von Buch is one of our Literary Studies students
"I knew I picked the right programme from the very beginning, when we read Saturday by Ian McEwan during Introduction to Literary Studies. Reading the book and gaining new knowledge that I otherwise would not have obtained, was the best feeling. I have had this feeling in almost every course.
Literary Studies gives me inspiration, content and so many new perspectives. It unites history, creativeness, psychology and philosophy; everything comes together. I was kind of expecting to just read books and meet up with people to talk about them. This happens, but we talk about the books in a historical or social context, and for example link them to philosophical theories we learn about. An example of this is an essay that I wrote on Foucault’s Panopticon theory as presented in The Trial by Kafka. In short, the programme is so much broader than I expected.
Because so many internationals pick this programme, the students are very open minded and passionate about literature. It is such a variety of people, not just nationality wise, but also interest wise. It is just really great to be around people who are as passionate about literature as I am.
I was not expecting the amount of guidance from the university and my fellow students. In this programme the groups are very small and everyone is super nice and helpful. If you have a question or a problem, someone takes you by the hand and helps you. I was pleasantly surprised about this, because I was not used to it at my previous university. The guidance is especially great for international students who are still settling and adjusting."
Stella Tabachnikoff is one of our Literary Studies students
"What really attracted me to Literary Studies is that it is a really historical, philosophical and sometimes political course. It appealed to me that there is more to Literary Studies than just literature. We treat literature through a broad and general lense.
My favorite course so far is Mythos and Logos, because the course came back to basics: a pen and paper with a play or story written on it. In class, we would analyse these texts to the core. Especially with poetry it was fun to work together as a team and uncover all the secrets that a poem has. First you need to make sure that you understand all the words and terminology to understand what the poet is actually saying and not already what the poet is trying to say. You need to get a very good sense of the immediate power of the language itself, without any of the interpretations that we as a reader add to it as we interpret and analyse. This is sometimes difficult for me, because I can feel very personally touched by something. So it can be very hard to set that side down and read a beautiful poem and not make it personal. But that is also what makes it so interesting.
Literary Studies teaches me to understand the art of the story. We as human beings understand everything through a story like process. We understand math and biology because we make a sequence of events, either scientific or not. We see a story in our heads. Ideas that we have for companies and startups all start out as just a story that you tell yourself in your head about who you could potentially be and create. I think that really thoroughly understanding how such a story is put together and create one yourself, can give you a lot of skills in understanding how to communicate with others, because you have more insight into another person his thought process."
Thijs Joores is one of our Literary Studies students
"When I had to decide on a degree, I was hesitating between Literary Studies and Architecture. In the end I opted for Literary Studies because of a gut feeling. Culture is what makes my heart beat faster, and I’ve always been an avid reader. Literature is endlessly fascinating to me, and I was absolutely determined to learn more about it.
I’m not exaggerating when I say that this degree has given me a different perspective on the world. As part of your study programme, you will critically assess many texts. This critical eye will enable you to give meaning to the world around you, and to see it through the prism of literature.
It’s true that you will spend a lot of time reading all these texts, so it’s vital that you really enjoy reading. In other words, Literary Studies is not a “fun” degree programme. Thankfully, you’ll be part of a motivating environment, with knowledgeable lecturers and students who all share a passion for books. Please note, though, that this degree is not some kind of fancy book club. It also involves plenty of theoretical stuff written by great thinkers.
So far, my favourite course has been the one on migration and diaspora in literature. The books and theoretical texts on the syllabus gave rise to a lot of heated debates and ambitious essays by everyone. The course kept drawing parallels to our current society, which only goes to prove the relevance of our field of study. We literary scholars have a lot of interesting things to say about the world.
My main tip for prospective students would be to allow themselves to be surprised! You will be reading a lot, from famous classics to experimental newcomers, and everything in between. Be open to everything and you will be guaranteed to find something fascinating. There is a lot of room for experimentation and ambition, so make the most of it!"
Graduate Christine Lemaire is a communications and PR team leader
"In the first few years following my Master’s degree I did quite a few different types of work. It turned out that a cum laude degree (obtained with a year’s studying time to spare) and a research work placement were not enough to help me find a relevant job. What I needed was actual work experience. Experiencing many different companies and organisations of varying sizes from within was a very educational experience. In each position I held, I was eventually given additional tasks that were not in my job description, because I turned out to be more competent than the job I was hired to do required. In addition to those jobs, I gained experience by volunteering to translate books and editing things for the Internet.
In the end, my current employer granted me the opportunity to start working as an editor. I then became the editor-in-chief, and now I’m a Communications & PR team leader with a Christian trade union, where I am responsible for the Communications department. On top of that, I regularly contribute articles as well.
I’ve noticed that in my current job, I particularly benefit from the critical eye on texts the programme gave me. The angle and order in which you present information affect the entire message. Similarly, it is vital that you convey the right message through the images you use. As far as this is concerned, I am greatly benefitting from the elective courses I took at the Gender Studies department. It goes without saying that subjects such as politics, emancipation and power are highly relevant to a trade union."