English Lit Degree vs Booktube: Ariel Bissett

Ariel Bissett is a lively (very) booktuber, creating book reviews where she may literally leap into the shot, arms outstretched, shouting “Hello!!!”  She’s not boring.  But even beyond her natural vivaciousness, she has grabbed my attention with an honest video in which she explains why doing her MA in English Literature was so difficult for her.

Why the MA was difficult

Joint 1st Reason: the knowledge, discussion and learning wasn’t going beyond her tutor’s marking – whereas in Booktube, she would naturally read, learn and pass on the feedback to viewers on the Internet. Ariel felt the privilege of being allowed to study – which made it worse that all this learning and thought was just for a mark, then left behind, unpublished.

Joint 1st reason: there was TOO much reading.  Afterwards, professors would agree that there was no way the students could have enough time to read all the texts.

“It really affected my mental health to a dark point that I haven’t been to, before”

The workload was to read 3 novels a week, plus about 300 pages of dense critical commentary, plus enough reading/writing to bring in your own interesting opinion, plus part-time assistant teaching role (to help with funding).  All of that led to overwork – work, sleep, get up and do it all over again.  She felt it led to a zombie like state.

3rd reason: all of this left Ariel no energy to pursue her own already busy interests: book review by video plus there was no socialising time, and watching TV or films made her feel guilty.

It became like a psychological mind game: the lowest pass mark you could get was an A-.  B+ was a fail.

4th Reason: Youtube work was underappreciated

Going into the programme, she negotiated that her dissertation could be in the form of a documentary – but was still expected to write an essay to accompany it.


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