Alumna Iulia works as a freelance writer and editor in the publishing industry
"I have always been fascinated by books as cultural products that furthermore offer creative responses to the world around us. I was not only interested in literature as a social critique and its potential to challenge internalized beliefs, but also in the way in which books are consumed and how they evolve from being a mere manuscript on someone’s desktop to earning their place amongst the bestselling charts. The Literature Today Master’s programme has given me the freedom to explore all of these things, by offering the opportunity to combine academic research with hands-on experience within the creative sector.
From the very beginning of the MA, we were advised to start looking for an internship in the field of work that interests us, which I did. My first role was as an editorial and social media assistant at Amsterdam Publishers, which later turned into a freelance position. Working in the book publishing industry whilst simultaneously studying about it turned out to be ideal for me; the courses that I have taken equipped me with valuable theoretical knowledge that I was then able to apply in my work.
The programme is divided into two semesters: the first one being devoted to courses, while the second is usually spent doing an internship and writing your thesis. Being someone who prefers—or else, craves—independent work, I enjoyed the process of researching a topic that I was passionate about tremendously. Once I finished my thesis, I decided that I would like to gain even more work experience in my field, which led me to do a second internship as a social media specialist at Elsevier, and I also started working as an editor for FRAME, Journal of Literary Studies. At this point, I have also started a literary blog where I would write book reviews and critical essays focusing on contemporary literature.
Looking back, I can certainly see how much this programme has shaped my professional life. I am currently working as a freelance writer and editor in the publishing industry, and I am also independently continuing the research that I have started in my Master’s thesis. The creative freedom and the myriads of opportunities that this programme has brought me is something for which I am genuinely grateful, and which makes me recommend it wholeheartedly."
Rajib Ahmed is a research consultant
"I have always been a passionate reader and teacher of literature and language, but was deficient in research skills in the discipline. I understood that being able to do research in a chosen field of study would enhance my career and give me opportunities to contribute back to the body of literature. As my search for a suitable programme continued, a Master’s degree in Literature Today at the heart of Europe caught my attention and I applied to Utrecht University. Fortunately, I secured a direct admission to the programme and, lo and behold, my new adventure began.
When I look back now, one year after completion of the programme, I recall experiencing an academically sound, updated and well-supported programme in contemporary issues of literature and publishing industry. With a bit of theoretical jab and a course on how to trace heritage in literary productions, this programme had everything I was looking for. From proposing a topic to perfecting it as an academic paper, I had to walk through all the research processes and techniques. The faculty were always there 100% with the support and assistance.
After the completion of the programme, which included an internship in one of the oldest and prominent publishing houses of the world, I planned to move back to teaching. But unforeseen and unfavourable circumstances barred me in 2020, but which also serendipitously nudged me to launch my own business as a research consultant. Now, a typical day for me looks like packing my laptop in the morning and finding cafes in the town for coffee and snacks, as I work whenever and wherever I want. Nevertheless, I would go back to my true calling of teaching in near future, with a fond memory of my much profitable affiliation with Utrecht University."
Gert van der Stelt works as a senior editor and followed the Pre-Master's programme
"After having worked as an English teacher for about eight years, I decided to try my hand at a Master’s degree in 2017. Literature Today was, for me, an obvious choice: I had always been interested in both the classics of literature, as well as the best that modern literature had to offer, and this studies links both these types to contemporary issues such as colonialism, feminism and post-humanism.
My background in English and my passion for literature got me into the Pre-Master's programme of Literature Today. This one-year programme offers a huge variety of courses that link to the aforementioned topics, creates an open space in which all types of discussion are viable, and strengthened my knowledge of many modern novels I either already loved, or learned to love through the group discussions.
After I had passed this year (in which I also had to write a Bachelor’s thesis), I enrolled into the actual Master’s programme. During this time, I deepened my knowledge regarding the impact literature can have, the many ways in which classical literature still connects to the now, and in what way it is relevant to other fields. One aspect that really stands out in the programme though, is the internship.
In the third period, the Master’s offers a chance to take a temporary internship at a location that is connected to the literary field. Mine took place at Uitgeverij Ten Have in Utrecht - a publishing house that specializes in books on philosophy - and I was hired to assist the head editor in a great many tasks. It was an amazing experience and, after incorporating it in my resume, actually helped me land another editing job!
I have recently started as a senior editor at E-WISE: a publisher that focuses on digital education for teachers. This job perfectly combines my teaching background with the knowledge I have gained during my Literature Today studies and internship: this internship actually got them interested in me in the first place, and I think they would not have considered me as seriously without that experience.
I would recommend the (Pre-)Master Literature Today to anyone who is interested in contemporary issues that are to be found in literature both old and new, and who appreciate a certain freedom of intellectual discussions that I had not expected when I started."
Iris Nieuwenhuizen works as a project officer at Passionate Bulkboek
The reason for me to choose the MA Literature Today was quite obvious. Most of the courses I chose during my BA English Language and Culture were focused on literature (as I love reading), and I also did a minor in Comparative Literature. I enjoyed reading theoretical texts during my BA but I also knew that I wanted to add more practical knowledge to my resumé, because eventually I wanted to get a job in the literary field. Literature Today offered a perfect mix of both worlds, and even today I still profit from what I learned during my MA.
Officially I did the English track, but I also followed an additional course in the Dutch track. This combination offered me a wide theoretical scope of both the international and the Dutch literary field. I learned about literary prices, current literary trends in the Netherlands and Flanders, the publishing industry and more. What was special to me about this Master’s degree was that a lot of people from the literary field were invited to come and talk about their work, and the students could ask them questions. During those meetings I was shown a glimpse of a possible future career. What I learned most from these people is that you have to get out there, gain experience (whether through voluntary work or an internship) and meet people. And that’s precisely why the internship-part of this degree is so extremely valuable.
I did my internship at Passionate Bulkboek: an organisation in Rotterdam that develops activities to spark and/or amplify young people’s (11-30 years) interest in reading and writing. My internship was very diverse, as I learned a lot about both marketing and production (so how to organise and event). I had the opportunity to put the theoretical knowledge I gained at university into practice: I have actually seen how the Dutch literary field works, and I also applied many other skills. On the other hand, during my internship I learned things you can only learn well simply by doing it: to work in a team, keep up with a planning, write non-academically, and work at events. Therefore, I’m really glad there was the opportunity to do this during my MA.
I stayed at Passionate Bulkboek after my internship, and since January 2018 I do the organisation, production and programming of writing contest Write Now! and Geen Daden Maar Woorden Festival. I still use the knowledge and experience I gained during my Master’s; it’s definitely provided a solid basis for me as a young professional.
Joy Merken works as a junior online marketeer at Meulenhoff Boekerij
"After finishing my bachelor in Creative Business, I wanted to apply my experience with digital media to the literary field, as reading has always been a passion of mine and I felt like my knowledge could be valuable to this industry. I visited several master information gatherings at different universities before deciding to enroll in the master Literature Today. This was a rather easy decision, as Literature Today distinguishes itself from other literary masters in its practical focus. This master has been designed to not only teach comparative literature, but also to prepare the students for a career in the literary field.
Literature Today is divided into three main phases: courses, an internship and writing a thesis. The courses are a mix of literary theory and studying the literary industry itself. Aspects of the heritage industry, literary prices, the publishing industry and world literature are covered in the courses. I felt like the mix of theoretical and industry-focused courses were a great way to study the subject I am passionate about, while simultaneously preparing myself for a career after the master.
After the courses, I did my internship as an online marketeer for Meulenhoff Boekerij, a Dutch publishing house based in Amsterdam. I decided to do an online marketing internship because of my background in media and my interest in transmedia. During this internship, I started realising how all the theory we've learned during the courses actually works 'in real life'. There were several moments when I really felt like the master prepared my for the situation I was in. In my case, especially the course about the publishing industry provided me with the knowledge I needed to start my internship with relevant knowledge and a professional attitude. I continued working for Meulenhoff Boekerij as a summer intern while I wrote my thesis about possibilities for transmedia products in the Dutch publishing industry.
After graduating, I stayed at Meulenhoff Boekerij and currently work as a junior online marketeer. This master gave me the freedom to combine modern media and the literary industry in my essays, internship and finally in my thesis, and because of that I have now found a job where I apply my knowledge about digital media to the literary field that I am so passionate about."
Hannah Bezemer did an internship at Meulenhoff Boekerij
"Ever since I was young, reading has been my passion. Therefore, my Bachelor’s in Comparative Literature was a dream come true and I could not have enjoyed studying it more. Yet, when it was time to decide on a Master’s degree, I panicked a little because I did not see a perfect programme for me. I played with the thought of enrolling in a Research Master’s but when I applied, they told me that I would probably fit better in the one year program of Literature Today. I followed their suggestion and applied there.
The courses were a mix between theory and the amplification of practical skills. For me, the practical courses were a good addition. They showed me how to apply writing techniques in a more professional context. Since I wanted to prepare myself as best as I could for finding a job, I decided to take an extra course on Dutch and Flemish contemporary literature.
The most valuable aspect of the programme, though, is doing an internship. An internship shows you how a publisher or any other type of organisation works. You get to experience the working rhythm and you can discover whether you are a good fit for the type of job or not. It varies from person to person how you function in a team and for some people it takes time to recognise what has to be done and how they can best take initiative. An internship can help you grow in this. It is also the way to build a network. You get to know people who know people and that is beneficial and necessary for finding work later on.
My internship at the marketing and publicity department of Meulenhoff Boekerij was an interesting time where I definitely learned a lot about how I work and what I am good at. Before my internship I found it hard to see how my studies prepared me for a professional job. However, that theoretical foundation made it possible for me to understand how, for example, decisions are made at a publishing house and where best to promote certain types of books. In general, my studies have enabled me to know what I am talking about in the workplace.
The Master’s programme has encouraged me to think about my future career, even though to apply and actively search for a job is a frightening and uncertain road for many. However, I am confident that I will be able to find something in the near future."