Studying the literature and culture of the nineteenth century has amplified my understanding of what it is to be human.
I was extremely nervous about undertaking ENGL200. I am currently studying to become a primary school teacher and was well aware that this unit doesn’t directly ‘add’ to my professional learning (aka transcript). However, I really wanted to challenge myself and extend my reading boundaries. During the first two weeks I felt uncomfortably out of depth. I soon realised I was being absurd as I gradually grew aware of how friendly and helpful my peers were and that the unit truly promoted learning over judgement. I have learnt so much more than I could ever have predicted about the Romantic and Victorian Era, as well myself.
What initially captivated me was content relating to the romantics steering away from the valued rationalism of the Enlightenment. Although I struggle with reading poetry, the conversations held in class gave me an insight I could never have achieved alone. After analysing ‘Frost at Midnight’ composed by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, I realised I began to utilise my understandings outside of the classroom. Before this course, I already needed to take breaks to have a stroll in the bush or sit in a creek and recap on my stresses. However, overtime I developed an immense appreciation for walking between my classes, reading in the sun, and planting myself in the beer garden rather than the bar (whoops). I always found the saying to “enjoy the small things in life” to be so corny, but now I find it so applicable to my current situation. From this, I became aware I easily take for granted the simple pleasures that can’t always be experienced by all.
The thing that surprised me the most was how much enjoyment I was obtaining from the visual art examples in class. Before this, I had never had a soft spot for paintings. I believe learning about the context of the times in which they were composed allowed me to truly value each piece. My personal favourite was William Blake’s depiction of Newton measuring the universe. This led me to become so excited for the NSW Gallery visit and it did not disappoint. Having never stepped foot in a gallery, I felt like a tourist and the photo album on my phone reinforces this.
My favourite book of this unit was without a doubt ‘Wuthering Heights’. I had never read a text whereby human emotion was so entwined, and I loved it! The way in which Emily Bronte incorporated so many significant characters to the plot with Nelly Dean as the gossiping narrator astounded me. My favourite text in class however was ‘The Scholar Gypsy’ by Matthew Arnold. I couldn’t help but think to myself how we as humans in modern times are so obsessed with ticking the boxes of what society deems acceptable rather than fulfilling our own voids. It really set in stone for myself how grateful I was for choosing this unit as the first chance to elect something outside of my required course enrolment guide.
All in all, I would recommend this unit to anyone wishing to extend their literature knowledge and there own perceptions. I believe I have rambled on in this entry but it’s the only way I felt I could communicate my true appreciation.