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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 20. 1972

The Same Game

The Same Game

If you are looking for a nice easy subject to take for your degree you should consider the courses offered by the English Department. Paper 101 is a beautiful fillin. It requres no special reading or understanding, and if you showed relative competence at pulling books to pieces and putting the shreds in little pots marked Plot, Character, Theme, Background, and Technique when you were at school nothing more need recommend you. You need not be quite as meticulous and tidy as at school, but the game is much the same. The syllabus is one you will be used to as well selected passages of prose for analysis, a couple of poets, a few quaint plays, four period novels, and a token sample of wornout N.Z. Many of the works you may consider rather too tedious, but dont let that deter you - I have known several people who have got through the course by reading little summaries and analyses, available from your dearest bookstore. Just think - in America you could buy your whole degree!

If you are interested in people's ideas, literature, or writing, do not take the English courses. Take instead philosophy, history of philosophy, history, political science, languages, or give up and do a BCA. English bears the same relation to these interests as a Vietnamese peasant to American aid - the potential is there but the application is lacking. The goodies don't seem to make it through the system.

In no way is this criticism aimed at the lecturers and tutors in the Department - in most instances the standards kept by the teaching staff are excellent, and they often go a considerable way towards making up for the inadequacies in the courses. What I am criticizing is the syllabus itself, which, in attempting to cover multifarious aims, succeeds in defying attempts made to limit and channel it to water any field adequately.