by Khushi Shanker Mathur
B.A. (honours) in English is one of the most prestigious humanities courses offered by the Delhi University, and is highly sought after by literature lovers. The course is not only renowned for being well structured, but also for its diverse and interdisciplinary texts. Since English Honours is very popular among applicants, 45 colleges in the Delhi University offer this course. Some of the best colleges for it are St. Stephens College, Miranda house, Lady Shri Ram College for Women, Hindu College, Kamala Nehru College and Jesus and Mary College.
B.A. English Honours requires the students to appear for 14 core papers over the course of 3 years, and for 4 Discipline Centric Electives in the 5th and 6th semesters. The core papers involve subjects like European classical literature, Indian writing in English, American literature, Popular literature, Women’s writing, Modern European drama, etc. The core papers cover the various phases and aspects of English literature, from the ancient to the contemporary times, and also involve English texts which have been translated from various languages. Some of the Discipline Centric Elective papers are Literary criticisms, Partition literature and Literature of the Indian Diaspora.
A common misconception that aspiring English honours students have is that the only skill required for this course is a strong vocabulary. But in reality the skill set needed for this course involves a genuine love for literature first and foremost, a rational and analytical mind and also the ability to articulate ones opinions about a literary piece while simultaneously trying to find more ways of understanding it.
The course is definitely not for students who can’t commit to reading entire novels at a stretch or are unable to read between the lines because these are some of the key components to acing English honours, but is a perfect fit for those who love reading, critiquing and finding the overarching themes and undertones in the texts. The course teaches students to appreciate literary techniques and along with that, it allows them to immerse themselves in the lives, times and cultures of the writers and the characters that they read about. This course teaches students how to analyse and appreciate a piece of art and allows them to develop a perceptive vision.
Since literature is an amalgamation of different streams like philosophy, history, sociology and even political science students are able to learn more about the society and the world that they live in while pursuing English honours. The writing skills of students improve as they have to prepare well researched, rational, thoroughly structured and well planned arguments and answers for their examinations. The students thoroughly improve their communication and interpersonal skills, and their critical thinking skills; they also develop emotional intelligence, and all of these are imperative life skills that help them immensely in their careers.
One of the major advantages of English honours is that it keeps a vast field of professional opportunities open for the students to pursue either at a higher education level or at a career level. The skills acquired during this three year course allow individuals to pursue career options like journalism, mass communication, public relations management, marketing, advertising, creative writing and teaching among many others. Some students may even choose to pursue fields like law and civil services after their graduation. Aspirants are advised to properly research about the course structure and its demands and then introspect about their own aptitude with reference to studying poetry, drama and novels. Only if a student enjoys this sphere of liberal arts and all that it represents should s/he pursue it.