Bookish Discussions

My Masters Experience | Victorian Literature:

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I’ve put off writing this for *so* long.

I didn’t want to admit that my university experience was finally over. But this Tuesday just gone, I graduated for the second time. I’m no longer a student.

For those of you who don’t know, I studied my undergrad degree in English Literature at Liverpool John Moores University. It felt right. I loved what I was studying, even if I found it hard, or if some of the books were boring. I was happy.

I didn’t want my education to end. I’m someone who likes to learn; likes to cultivate the mind. I knew I wanted to do a Master of Arts since second year. I knew I wanted to do it in something I loved, something I was passionate about, and that was Victorian Literature. So, I sent an application off to the University of Liverpool, who have a specific pathway in Vic Lit. I got accepted and I started my Masters in September 2018.

I knew it would be hard. I knew it would be mostly independent work. But I didn’t know just how hard it would be. You got no help. Tutors would say “you need to write at a higher level if you want to pass this degree”, but they wouldn’t tell you how to write at a higher level. I still don’t know. They expected some much from you and just left you in the dark.

I found it so hard. One of my teachers even laughed with joy at the prospect of making me cry over email, telling me that I’m not cut out for this degree if I don’t start “writing at a higher, more intellectual level”. He actually laughed and said “OH! I haven’t made a student cry in years!”. I knew, from that moment, I was on my own.

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Bookish Discussions

Victorian Witches | A Dissertation:

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I’ve been moaning about my dissertation on these parts since the start of the year. I don’t want all my research, time and effort to go to waste, so I thought I’d share what I found during the process of writing my dissertation on Victorian witches with you.

So, I recently finished my Master of Arts degree in Victorian Literature at the University of Liverpool. You can find out all about my modules, essays and reading lists here: sem I & sem II. I will eventually have a separate post on my experience as a master student, so let’s not dwell on that here.

Anyway, four months, 53 pages and 16,138 words later, I handed my dissertation (and my final essay ever) in on the 13th September – of all days, smh.

I chose to write on Victorian witches as it combines two of my favourite things (and I had already written on the Brontës for my undergrad diss). I focused on how Victorian authors re-told history, titling my work ‘William Harrison Ainsworth’s and Elizabeth Gaskell’s Historical Storytelling of the Witch Through Famous Witch Hunts/Trials’.

Witches receive very little attention by critics, despite being prevalent in Victorian literature. Due to the fluidity of their definition, as I discovered, witches metamorphised in various forms. Writers were forced to play with the image of the witch because belief in the occult, the supernatural, and in womanhood, was constantly in flux during this century.

I could add to the debate on Victorian Gothic by looking at portrayals of witches from a historical perspective. I focused on Ainsworth’s The Lancashire Witches, which re-told the Pendle Witches, and Gaskell’s ‘Lois the Witch’, which re-told the Salem Witch Trials. Although set on opposite ends of the Atlantic, they explore how women were vilified by small communities. I analysed through obvious themes, such as gender, race and class.

So, I split my introduction into four subsections:

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Bookish Discussions

Victorian Literature | Semester II:

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As September draws nearer, I am one step closer to finishing uni *for good*. I’m to step into The Real World and I’m not ready. So, let’s prolong uni by writing my last ever module post, shall we? As with my undergrad (Year I, II, III:I & III:II) and the start of my masters (I:I), I thought I’d document the modules I chose and the books I was asked to study for the semester just gone!

I have to admit, semester II was the worst five months of my academic life. I had a lot of personal struggles, I fell out of love my degree & Victorian literature, and I lost all motivation to do well in my essays. I honestly stopped caring, which isn’t like me at all, because I usually love studying. (I’ll have a post dedicated to my masters experience going live soon if you want more info!)


Dissertation Project:

Let’s start easy.

I had to choose and present my dissertation idea to a group of fellow Victorianists, which I then later wrote up in essay form. There was no required reading, I only had to attend a couple of lectures, and I only had two assignments (only one of them was marked). This module was more about refining my dissertation topic than anything else.

Continue reading “Victorian Literature | Semester II:”