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Monday, January 28, 2008

Lit crit shit fight

Fear not, more New York anecdotes will follow. But I am saving them. (And trying to remember them through the haze of jetlag.)

Today I have mostly been studying for a course I'm taking in a few weeks. Not very interesting, and indeed, I haven't even left the flat today. So, instead of regaling you with an exciting anecdote from today (mostly because there isn't one), I shall challenge you to a fight.

I would like to have a fight with anyone who believes university days were the best days of your life.

Yes, there were good points. Free Fridays, and one year, free Fridays AND free Mondays. Nice people. Gossip. Cups of tea and cake. Scrambled egg in hall on a Thursday. Student theatre discounts. These were all good things.

But there was a lot of rubbish too, notably the course itself. Clearing out my hard drive earlier today, I came across some university essays. As ever with essays, the ones you spent hours researching and carefully writing up got a low 2:1. Those which you rushed off and didn't really think about, usually through flu or a hangover tended to get me a high 2:1. Try, or don't try - it didn't really matter, and about 95% of us left the course with - you've guessed it - a 2:1.

I didn't mind the essays. I quite like writing. And I managed to choose a course with no exams, which suited me very well. However, would you please look at the following (genuine) essay title, set for one of my Shakespeare and Jonson modules, and tell me if I was naive in thinking it made absolutely no fucking sense:

‘The romances explore what it means to be a subject: an agent of the self, within the state, seeking for satisfaction. And so the epitomic figures are the ones denied their place at the centre, not only the rogues, slaves, fishers, and vagabonds, but the itinerant princes, and, crucially, the exiled women.’ (Palfrey) Discuss with reference to Jonson and/or Shakespeare.

What the buggery bollocks is "an agent of the self"? I tried my best. I gamely blagged with sentences such as, "Are any of us, even in ‘real life’, ‘agents of the self’, or are our desires and our search for ‘satisfaction’ shaped by Art and the ideals it upholds? "

I tried again later with, "Are we too being directed upon a stage controlled by some other author, our lives exposing dramatic ironies detected by an invisible audience? Can we be sure that we are ‘agents of the self’ and not, as Hitchcock might have put it, ‘cattle’?"

My Shakespeare and Jonson tutor was not impressed. I like to imagine this was owing to a clash of personal styles rather than him guessing that to this day I have never read a Jonson play in full.

Low 2:1. Fuck it. So, anyone want a fight about university days? And if you do - are you sure that you're acting as an agent of the self?


Anonymous said...

I pick up your white (just white, snow white) glove Laura and wack you back with it *thut thut* :o)

Uni days ARE some of the best days of your life. If you think that scrambled eggs are a highlight, then maybe that is why you are not yet convinced....? :o)

What about having a sink in your bedroom?! In fact having pretty much EVERYTHING you want all in one room. Not paying tax? Student loans and overdrafts, 1 pound drink nights, finding out there are loads of people that have the same interests as you and have read the same stuff as you, getting to trial living in another city with no committment, going home for holidays....?

Laura said...

You leave my splendid swan poem out of this.

To answer your points:

1) I did not have a sink in my bedroom. My bedroom was up about 14 flights of stairs, and my knee was bollocksed.

2) I did pay tax because I worked through uni. Though admittedly I did get some of it back. This was good.

3) Student loan - also good. Fair point.

4) £1 drink nights... have you ever met me?

5) Jury is out on the same interests / reading same stuff, unless you're counting course literature.

6) It rained in Bristol. A lot. There were also lots of hills.

7) Going home for holidays was fine... but again I worked full time, so never really had holidays as such!


Jo said...

I'm with you, Laura. I have overall enjoyed my post-uni 5 years much more than my uni 4 years. Thank goodness. I also used to panic when people told me that schooldays were the bests days of your life (!). Uni vs. Realworld:

-Money to do stuff that doesn't have to involve £1 pints of Snakebite Black (although that was fun at the time, admittedly)

-Having a finishing point for your work each day

-Not having to write/plagerise ridiculous essays every week

-Not having to drink vodka redbulls

-Living in a house that doesn't have sausage stuck to the ceilings/rubbish posters on the walls

-Not being shouted at in Nottingham city centre on a Saturday night by people in a white Escort (probably): "Come on you f-ing student c***s, we'll give you a bashing"

Still, I wouldn't trade in the experience.

Anonymous said...

When I'm in charge, only doctors and architects need go to uni.

And I'd bring back National Service instead.

Laura said...

Doctors, architects and maybe nuclear physicists. People who want to go to learn about Geography or History or English should do it in their own time.

Not keen on the National Service idea though. Could we do community theatre instead?

Jo - sausage on the ceiling actually sounds quite a lot of fun. We had a rodent infestation that a) we were unaware of and b) the landlord took our deposit (illegally) to deal with.

Happy days.

Anonymous said...

Well uni's generally what you make of it really.

You can look on the bright side, or just wrtite bitter blogs to vent a frustrated anger. Either works.