Tuesday, 4 May 2010
Too many books, too little time...
The Exam Period is upon us.
As a student studying English Literature (amongst other things), and having been revising for four whole days now.
I feel as though I have only just started climbing a never-ending staircase of knowledge, only to find that it is in fact an escalator and those stairs just keep on coming.
The more I try to get my head around plot, characters, setting, themes and just trying to 'get the gist' of a book or a poem, I am finding myself having to explore allegories, pragmatics, criticism, social historical contexts, author biographies and everything else that makes one piece of literature become a cavernous world of extraneous pieces of information that refuse to stay in my head.
Sure finding out about how an author's sexuality affected the reception of his story is interesting, and questioning why the texts I've been asked to study have been canonised into 'English Literature At It's Best' actually reveals a lot about the power of dominant ideologies and groups (it's always the white, middle-class men that get to decide if it's keeper or not).
My problem arises when I think about the sheer amount of things I am trying to remember on the off-chance that a question in one of my exams might require a sentence or two's reflection on something I've read, once, weeks ago.
I must try to remember that knowledge isn't all about being able to regurgitate facts, dates and names when prompted by a crisp sheet of white A4. I came to University to expand my knowledge; true, but it's the effect of this knowledge that I'm really looking for; wisdom, awareness and acuity.
It just so happens that the means to this end involves climbing many more steps for many more years, never hoping to reach the top, just enjoying the excercise along the way.