Anne-Sophie at UEA

An International Student of Literature in England.

The Beginning of the End

Well… The time has come, it is the beginning of the end. I’ve been dreading this for months. My last semester of university at UEA (and probably at university ever — this is my fifth year) has started and I feel so sad. It’s not always been fun and easy, sometimes I was sick of literature and couldn’t wait for it to be done, but third year has really renewed my love for reading and for the study of literature.

Of course, if I say these things, it’s partly because I’m terrified of what will come after university. Currently, I have no plans. I want to work but nobody’s just waiting for me and it can be demoralising sometimes. I applied for several graduate schemes without success last semester. I have no idea where I’ll live when my house contract ends. Now I really need to find the motivation somewhere to start applications again despite being busy with readings and wanting to make the most of this year in terms of social stuff (me, being social?!), volunteering, work as a student ambassador, student guide… Yes – I’m basically compensating for doing barely anything in second year.

One thing I know is that I don’t want to leave UEA or Norwich. UEA is my home in England, I feel like I belong here and I love it so much… Studying English Literature here has really changed my life, it’s opened me to so many ideas and theories and one thing is certain: I need to continue studying literature — French, English and American — (and maybe even philosophy?) somehow!

In any case, I have made a promise to myself last semester: this final year must be good and memorable!

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Module-wise, I am incredibly excited about New Worlds: Science Fiction and Beyond! The title is pretty straightforward. I knew when I applied for this module that I’d love it despite having read no science fiction novel and not watching that many films. It’s also perfect for me because my favourite things to study are contemporary novels (from the mid-20th century to now) or things that are not always seen as academic enough. So far it’s been awesooooome! I can’t describe how good it feels to be truly EXCITED to read novels again, especially one for my course. So far we have read The Time Machine by H.G. Wells and The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut – which were both awesome! There was also The Food of the Gods by H.G. Wells that I didn’t enjoy as much but it really reminded me of studying Gargantua by Rabelais for my French Baccalauréat. We’ve also studied several short stories (all super cool): my favourite one was ‘Behold the Man’ by Moorcock – about a time traveller who goes back in time to see Jesus and discover who he really was (I have a weird fascination for anything to do with Jesus as historical figure and Biblical themes) … There’s a cool sort of twist and the tension really lasts until the final lines. I don’t want to spoil it but I really recommend it.

My second module is Travel Literature! To be honest, the reason why I chose it is because we need to fulfil pre-1789 requirements and this one was, with Satire, the only one that didn’t sound too bad or hard. After the first seminar, I tried to switch to the Satire module which was very unfortunately full… I’ve been really torn apart between these two modules since last year and now regret not putting Satire as my first choice but I was worried I wouldn’t “get it”. Now I think I would have enjoyed Satire a lot more and that it would have been more fun, but I’m trying to remain motivated for Travel Literature. I don’t really have the choice, do I? There are other modules I did that I didn’t enjoy at the beginning and still ended up finding them very interesting (like 18th Century Writing in second year). It’s just that I would have preferred to do something I REALLY wanted to study, like Children’s Literature, Queer Literature and Theory…

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However, I have to say the reading isn’t too bad or challenging. I don’t often admit it openly but I do struggle with 18th century writing in general or anything too academic. I’m bilingual but that’s very different from having a native level… I don’t want to be treated differently from other students but I’m just saying that it’s an additional difficulty I’ve experienced in my studies. I’m glad though because all the editions I bought for this module are modernised versions (not weird “S” things!!) and the books aren’t long at all. The first couple of weeks we started with utopias! Which is great because I wanted to read utopias one day! And… I realise they weren’t what I imagined at all, perhaps because I don’t enjoy 18th century texts.

One thing I didn’t expect and found interesting though was the overlap between these two modules. Travel literature (or utopias and adventure stories) and Science Fiction are both about the discovery of new worlds, they both raise concerns about society, politics and the future of humanity. In a way, it gives me the feeling to have a very broad literary knowledge and feel so smart when I manage to make connections between two texts that seem completely different!

Hopefully this semester will go well… I’m trying to stay positive and not stress too much, but there’s this pervasive feeling of ending, the frustration to do a module I didn’t really want to do, the dread of change, and the crippling fear of failing my last essays at the end of this semester. I don’t see why it would happen though.

See you soon for more updates on how my semester goes!

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7 comments on “The Beginning of the End

  1. Amberley
    18 March, 2017

    Hi, I was wondering a bit more about what your thoughts are on travel literature? I’m a second year at uea and am completely undecided about my pre (not keen on writing thats really old) – do you enjoy that module?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anne-Sophie
      18 March, 2017

      Hey! I have very mitigated thoughts on Travel Literature. On the one hand, it’s easier and better than I expected (I find the language used in some texts challenging but overall, it’s not that bad and we’ve been mostly working on modern editions of the texts which helps!). On the other hand, I (and the other people I’ve spoken to) find the module “direction” very unclear. I think it’s not helped that we’re a tiny group and small barely anyone turns up, so most week it’s only me and three other people. It’s got nothing to do with the module itself but it makes it even more challenging because I’m not super inspired by the texts we’ve done but still have to speak constantly. But still, some of the texts we’ve done were very interesting. We started with utopias. I found it weird at first but as the weeks went by, I could see the relevance of studying utopias and how some of the texts that are 100% non-fiction re-use or transform the utopian tradition. We’ve done two texts by women which were by far my favourite texts (including one by Wollstonecraft which was super political/feminist!), one about James Cook’s travels, two slave narratives and other ones about England and the UK.
      The main goal of the module was to study the question of genre (all these texts are “travel narratives” but are so different from one another. Some are fictional, others real letters, others blend the two together), the question of identity (how are the traveller’s identities changed by their travels?) and that of the position of the British Empire/ideology.
      So in a nutshell, I’d say it’s not one of the best modules I’ve done at uni and not one of my favourite ones either… BUT! It’s still been interesting and enriching, I feel like I’ve learnt a lot. Oh and one thing I forgot to mention: I was expecting a lot more reading but there’s actually been less that in past modules I’ve done! Most books are fairly short (around 150 pages) which is nice especially when the language itself is quite heavy and difficult (super long and weirdly constructed sentences for instance). And also, if none of the other pre-1789 modules catch your attention, I say go for Travel Literature!! My reserve choice was the 18th century novel and I’m soooooooo glad I didn’t get it. People told me about it and they’re studied Clarissa (all of it!). Unless you’re really into these things, it seems like a very heavy module. After the first week I tried to switch to Satire, but with my insight and after hearing from a friend who’s currently doing Satire, I’m quite happy with Travel Literature.
      You said you’re not keen on writing that’s really old and I totally get that, I’m the same! But I hope it’ll help you to know that the writing is old but doesn’t feel TOO old (and in a couple of texts — letters written by women — it actually felt quite contemporary). As I said, this module focuses more on very varied themes. So although it’s still challenging and not my favourite module ever, I would recommend it for someone in your situation 🙂
      I really hope this helps, sorry if you expected a much shorter reply haha. Let me know if you have any other questions 🙂
      EDIT: We actually did three texts by female writers. The ones I liked are by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and Mary Wollstonecraft!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Amberley
        18 March, 2017

        Thank you so much for replying so soon and in detail! Hearing how the novels aren’t too long or too difficult is good to hear as I do struggle with the pres and I want to do a dissertation that semester so don’t want to do a module with tons of reading. Those books do sound interesting and different but having so few people in a seminar is slightly worrying! But I would much rather have that than do medieval. Thank you for being so honest this really has helped me 🙂

        Like

      • Anne-Sophie
        18 March, 2017

        You’re welcome, I’m glad if it helped! 🙂 Good luck for the rest of your year!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Amberley
        19 March, 2017

        Thanks, good luck to you too!

        Like

  2. Pascale
    2 February, 2017

    Dear Ann’So,
    Don’t be so scarred about “the After” UEA !…
    Do what you do ,things will come naturally…so, be cool ..you’re on the good way !!
    Big swallows kisses,(typically French expressions )
    Your old ant Pascale .
    Ps: I do my best , I hope you understand what I wrote…

    Like

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