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English literature or public administration optional

I had taken Pub ad as optional and studied 3 months without coaching. But I think it is difficult to study Pub ad at home without coaching.So I am thinking of taking English literature as optional. What are the pros and cons? What could be the approx cost of books for English literature?
Please throw some light on English literature optional.
Please note that my background is engineering.I will be highly indebted for every reply on this issue. Please respond.

Comments

  • :s
    knl.ias said:

    I had taken Pub ad as optional and studied 3 months without coaching. But I think it is difficult to study Pub ad at home without coaching.So I am thinking of taking English literature as optional. What are the pros and cons? What could be the approx cost of books for English literature?
    Please throw some light on English literature optional.
    Please note that my background is engineering.I will be highly indebted for every reply on this issue. Please respond.

  • dude i tried that as well in fact i would say that around 70% of the books mentioned there i already read before starting UPSC prep. but writing critical literature is something else entirely. It requires skill and history and whatnot.Also books are hard to find and the ones you find are costly. Plus you gotta get your hands dirty and research thoroughly from Internet its a time taking process to actually become a connoisseur of literature and i guess thats what UPSC expects you to be.Few people take this optional which means either they are literature graduates or they have had enough time in their hands to get their shit together. dont be under the impression that its the same Shakespeare that you studied in 10th and 12th (if u r from ISC i.e) I come from a science background myself and having no info on literature i find it ridiculously tough if not outright impossible.Now i'm not saying every literature subject is tough may be u can look at hindi or Maithili or i dont know Tamil or Kannada(if u r from south i.e) these vernacular literature types gives you a level playing field coz chances are not many people would do their graduation in hindi or sanskrit literature but these english literature students eho have spent three years studying Wordsworth and Shakespeare are complete badasses they know their shit and like a silent effective sniper they'll take you out with a headshot(if u play counter strike i.e). You know the shit "toppers" say that you gotta pick an optional you love, well something's love can't buy, for everything else there's Sociology.
  • @killerjoe Bro your reply was damn good. More like an eye opener. Thanx again :)
  • I too was thinking the same and I am about to change my optional from history to English as I graduated in english literature.The reason ,I first chose history as optional despite my interest in english is due to the reasons mentioned by killerjoe above.English literature is amazing to read,would soothe your mind but you need to think multiple times before choosing it as an optional because it is tough write a critical appraisal.I have experienced this during my college days.I would know every single line of a short story or a novel still I would find hard to write the answer in exams as not even a single question would be in a direct manner.you need to delve deep and immerse yourselves in english literature ,if you decide to choose it as an optional.Why not choose your native language as an optional.?As for me,I have a slight dislike towards Tamil literature ,so I have not chosen it but if you love your native language then it would be the best bet among the lot as it is less competitive, regional languages fetch high marks and it would also be easy for you to write.I am saying this as I assume you love reading literature.why not then choose your own language?If you are preparing along with your job then choosing english would not be good for you.Think for yourselves and take a good decision.Killer joe has mentioned the pros and cons in a beautiful manner.Congrats.
  • @knl.ias glad i could help.
  • I did a BA (hons) in English literature. In my year we had admission based on cut off, so a lot of people with decent marks but no real 'aptitude' were in the batch with us. They dropped off slowly, and we graduated as a batch of 27, about half of the original.
    A lot of people start with the notion that this is an aesthetic diversion, or at best, an attempt to understand the 'meaning' of prescribed texts. Please know that this is not the case.
    As with any of the 'social sciences,' literature requires you to examine not just semantics, but the paradigms of discourse itself. In the words of gayatri spivak, my very favourite philosopher, to "rearrange desires." We were introduced to the works of Kate Millet, the Frankfurt School, Frantz Fanon, in the first semester itself. That was absolutely revolutionary at 18, and the 3 years were a whirlwind of intellectual evolution. Exams were only incidental.
    If you have brilliant professors, the coolest libraries, and a vibrant university campus like i did, you will change chemically.

    My own optional is Pol Sci. Why? Because the UPSC Eng Lit syllabus is absolutely primitive. It is basically a list of dead white men. (Plus the question- answer format is such a bore, i don't want to have to put Shakespeare through it!) Also, Pol Sci Paper 1 (theory, ideology and philosophy) has many overlaps with my graduation subject, so it is somewhat familiar territory.
  • edited August 2016
    did b.a english lit and i would say go for it.

    it also depends on how much you have read of the books mentioned in the syllabus. reading all the texts for the books, that’ll take time. then there’s also time to be spent in reading more materials/articles/ lit criticisms. if you are starting your prep from the beginning be mindful of planning the amount of time you’ll take to complete all of this esp if you are planning on giving this years mains?

    if you are buying all the texts, it may turn out to be quite a sum. you can download/buy ebooks, if you prefer. many of the books in the syllabus are in public domain too. source materials from the net…

    have you had a look at this thread? http://discuss.forumias.com/discussion/993/english-literature-as-an-optional-a-good-choice

    why not revive this old thread and try posting some answers for peer review, tag the old players http://discuss.forumias.com/discussion/4884/upsc-english-literature-answer-writing/p19


    TLDR (i) can you manage time for it? (ii) books can be expensive, options are libraries, buy used books, internet, ebooks etc



  • @june I will consider your words. Thank you :)
  • Pros:
    1. Scoring. I know quite a few people who left 7-8 texts completely and still scored ~180.
    2. Less competition and almost no chance of extreme marks like 30 or 40 or 50, like it happens in PubAd.
    3. Second highest success ratio of nearly 17%, which means that 1 out of 5 aspirants who write mains with English literature make it to the final list.

    Cons:
    1. Long syllabus. Can take at least 6-8 months for a non-backgrounder.
    2. Overall very boring if you don't like English history and classics.
    3. Nil guidance, no test series.
    4. Many people writing with this optional are graduates in the subject, who will certainly have an edge on you w.r.t presentation and depth of preparation.

    The last point is not that much of a con because, for example, I'm pretty sure that nearly half the people writing mains with English literature, this time, do not have a background in the subject.
    Hardly 15 people write mains with eng. lit. every year, 8-9 of whom are known to me this time.

    Cost of books:
    <7k for all the actual texts + Daiches for history + Barry for theory + worldviews + casebooks + a few second hand Norton's. The last three are publishers which come up with critical essays for each text. You need to cite these critics in the answers in order to substantiate your interpretation of a particular novel/drama/poem.
    Most of the stuff is painstaking internet research and youtube videos, or you need access to a good university library.

    Order a few novels from Paper 1 and read them, then read a few poems. Then see if you are still interested or not.
    If yes, then go for it.
    Realistically speaking, English Literature gives you a very good chance of success provided that your GS is managed properly.
    You cannot expect to, say, score 300 in literature and get by with 320-330 in GS. But scoring 250 in literature is quite possible, and a given, with proper approach and adequate time.

    Choose wisely. All the best!
    Prelims: 4. Mains: 2*. Interview: 1. Rank: NA.
    Literature of English Language.
    "Only through time time is conquered."
  • @DrKingSchultz You have me interested bro...Since u r a non literature student i guess you could help us all.
    Few doubts:
    1.If literature is all about interpretation and most questions are open ended how can we expect it to be scoring.( what if our view differs with the examiner)
    2.How do you go about a text say Pride and Prejudice.You read the text, the characters,their motivations, you look at the history, you look at the literary techniques used, then critical edition...i mean what is the order that you follow.How do you criticize a piece of literary work?
    3.Since not many people take this optional what are the chances of question's being repeated.
    4. what if i consult a professor of a state government university, for guidance, will that be enough?
    5. UGC channel on youtube seems to have lectures on many of the novels and poems. Are they of any use?
    6. How important it is to quote directly from the text or poem
    7. how important it is to complete the entire syllabus...I mean can we leave somethings out
    8.Can the answers be written in simple english
    9.How do you maintain notes if you could give us a screenshot that would be really helpful.
  • edited August 2016
    killerjoe said:

    @DrKingSchultz You have me interested bro...Since u r a non literature student i guess you could help us all.
    Few doubts:
    1.If literature is all about interpretation and most questions are open ended how can we expect it to be scoring.( what if our view differs with the examiner)
    2.How do you go about a text say Pride and Prejudice.You read the text, the characters,their motivations, you look at the history, you look at the literary techniques used, then critical edition...i mean what is the order that you follow.How do you criticize a piece of literary work?
    3.Since not many people take this optional what are the chances of question's being repeated.
    4. what if i consult a professor of a state government university, for guidance, will that be enough?
    5. UGC channel on youtube seems to have lectures on many of the novels and poems. Are they of any use?
    6. How important it is to quote directly from the text or poem
    7. how important it is to complete the entire syllabus...I mean can we leave somethings out
    8.Can the answers be written in simple english
    9.How do you maintain notes if you could give us a screenshot that would be really helpful.

    1. We can at least expect the examiners to be mature enough to appreciate different viewpoints, which they do. :)
    244 (IRS-IT), 268 and 235 were a few scores of non-backgrounders last year.
    3. Read the text, understand the basic premise, setting, characters etc. Then critical essays on it. Watch a couple of videos on youtube to see if I can get anything extra.
    4. Questions are broad-based, but quite repetitive. And as long as you've covered the major dimensions of the texts, it shouldn't be difficult.
    5. That would be enough, you just need to get the hang of writing answers as a literature graduate would.
    6. Haven't seen it.
    7. It is very important. Gives you an edge. Quoting critics and alluding to other works of the author/poet beyond the syllabus = brownie points. It is easier said than done, though.
    8. We can, and most people do, but as the proverb goes, "The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war." :)
    9. Yes. Simpler the better. But proper grammar and syntax is obviously a sine qua non.
    10. I have casebooks and norton's critical editions for most texts, so I've just summarized those critical essays, hoping that it enables me to revise each criticism quickly and mug up the relevant quotes.

    All this being said, I'm having a mighty mighty tough time framing answers at present. The structure, intro, conclusion, everything is very difficult for me right now. I understand that it will come with practice, but I would only ask you and others to give ample time to answer writing if you are from a non-literature background.
    Proper answer writing and presentation means nearly half the battle won. :)
    Prelims: 4. Mains: 2*. Interview: 1. Rank: NA.
    Literature of English Language.
    "Only through time time is conquered."
  • killerjoe said:

    @DrKingSchultz You have me interested bro...Since u r a non literature student i guess you could help us all.
    Few doubts:
    1.If literature is all about interpretation and most questions are open ended how can we expect it to be scoring.( what if our view differs with the examiner)
    2.How do you go about a text say Pride and Prejudice.You read the text, the characters,their motivations, you look at the history, you look at the literary techniques used, then critical edition...i mean what is the order that you follow.How do you criticize a piece of literary work?
    3.Since not many people take this optional what are the chances of question's being repeated.
    4. what if i consult a professor of a state government university, for guidance, will that be enough?
    5. UGC channel on youtube seems to have lectures on many of the novels and poems. Are they of any use?
    6. How important it is to quote directly from the text or poem
    7. how important it is to complete the entire syllabus...I mean can we leave somethings out
    8.Can the answers be written in simple english
    9.How do you maintain notes if you could give us a screenshot that would be really helpful.

    1. We can at least expect the examiners to be mature enough to appreciate different viewpoints, which they do. :)
    244 (IRS-IT), 268 and 235 were a few scores of non-backgrounders last year.
    3. Read the text, understand the basic premise, setting, characters etc. Then critical essays on it. Watch a couple of videos on youtube to see if I can get anything extra.
    4. Questions are broad-based, but quite repetitive. And as long as you've covered the major dimensions of the texts, it shouldn't be difficult.
    5. That would be enough, you just need to get the hang of writing answers as a literature graduate would.
    6. Haven't seen it.
    7. It is very important. Gives you an edge. Quoting critics and alluding to other works of the author/poet beyond the syllabus = brownie points. It is easier said than done, though.
    8. We can, and most people do, but as the proverb goes, "The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war." :)
    9. Yes. Simpler the better. But proper grammar and syntax is obviously a sine qua non.
    10. I have casebooks and norton's critical editions for most texts, so I've just summarized those critical essays, hoping that it enables me to revise each criticism quickly and mug up the relevant quotes.

    All this being said, I'm having a mighty mighty tough time framing answers at present. The structure, intro, conclusion, everything is very difficult for me right now. I understand that it will come with practice, but I would only ask you and others to give ample time to answer writing if you are from a non-literature background.
    Proper answer writing and presentation means nearly half the battle won. :)
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