Why I Study Literature.

Growing up, I’ve always loved reading and writing, which pushed me to pursue English Literature in junior college and university.

Sadly, in a society that values numbers, Literature, and any other humanities subject for that matter, is inevitably belittled as no more than a mandatory fulfilment for lower to upper secondary education. Up to the day I graduated, many concluded that my degree was ill-suited to the reality of the working world, and the only job that would befit me was – you guessed it, an English teacher (which I’m not, by the way).

Not to put down my peers who did embark on the teaching route (whom I totally look up to because I personally couldn’t stomach the thought of going back to the classroom); I just find it ironic that English Literature majors are held in a dichotomous position in which they are revered for being able to understand a seemingly indecipherable text (trust me, it doesn’t happen all the time), but at the same time ridiculed for “over-reading” a “storybook”.

It’s cliche to say this, but if I had a dollar for every time someone stopped by to tell me to get my nose out of “that storybook” and hit the “real” books, I would be a millionaire.

But this post is not to lament about the woes of a student of English Literature, or to lambast every single person who inadvertently made me feel less than a student (including that one guy who told me to, quote unquote, stop looking at pornography because my copy of After Leaving Mr. Mackenzie had Modigliani’s Reclining Nude as its cover art).

I just thought I would post something that Professor Robbie Goh shared in my final class at NUS (which I also thought might come in handy for anyone who’s in that why-did-I-choose-this-major time of the semester 😉 ). I’m not setting out to change anyone’s mind about my major, but maybe this might put those in doubt a little closer to why I stuck with it for so long:

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Follow the Yellow Paneled Ceiling (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences @ NUS)

I made a trip back to my old school, NUS, shortly after I graduated, armed with little more than my trusty Leica IIIF RD and a mental map of all the places I intended to visit and photograph.

Call me crazy for making that oh so dreaded Journey to the West, but there was no way I could stop myself after reading the umpteenth article about how places on this sunny island are constantly changing (no thanks to a relentless effort to drive our country to modernity).

Being the sentimental person that I am, I wanted nothing more than to snap an album full of pictures before it undergoes a complete face lift over the next decade.


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