As a postgraduate student of Comparative Literature at King’s College London, this course has been a breath of fresh air—the subjects we cover are diverse, the seminars are interesting and engaging, and we can look at mediums of art that are not just literature. As both an international student and one who did not study Comparative Literature at undergraduate level, changing my field of study was nerve-wracking, though I have to admit that my undergraduate degree of English was not a completely different area of study. What is encouraging is that there are students coming from various backgrounds in our course. From History to International Relations and more, and with them they bring various life experiences. Though some are fresh out of their previous degrees like me others had years of teaching or other work experience under their belt. But the best part was that the faculty understood the diversity in our knowledge, and there was no requirement to have prior experience studying Comparative Literature.
So why did I switch from English to Comparative Literature? Well, there were a variety of reasons. Firstly, in the three years I spent studying English literature, I was met with Western literature, as opposed to a more global approach to the study of words— literature such as British, American, French, and German dominated my studies. There was an intense focus on learning everything about these Western authors that the course ended up feeling suffocating and restrictive. Though my professors had so much knowledge about regional and postcolonial literature, they could not change the structure of the curriculum.
And then the final year of my undergraduate rolled around, along with the time to start applying for postgraduate courses. I had never considered Comparative Literature, mainly because I had never heard of it before. I had focused on English MA courses. They seemed nice, but none of them absolutely caught my attention in such a way that I would be able to focus on them enough. Again, the feeling of restriction had resurfaced—why did these courses focus on only certain time periods or particular regions? I wanted a course that would allow me to broaden my horizons, to be able to research types of art and literature that I was not exposed to before.
January started and so did my final semester, and still I had not picked a degree. That semester, however, featured an elective module that I had been looking forward to for a while: World Literatures. My professor mentioned that I should consider Comparative Literature and I thought well this is not a degree I had thought of before. There was a flurry of research into this subject on my part and finally I realised this degree was what I had been searching for all along. I could not believe it! My application process, which was already delayed, finished quickly once I knew the degree I wished to pursue for postgraduate studies. But after, I was left confused with whether I had made the right decision or not.
My fears were laid to rest when I began my studies at KCL in September. I am grateful for the experiences and knowledge I have gained so far. I am looking forward to learning more about global literature and working on my dissertation!