This year’s sub-editors reflect on their experience as they prepare to leave York St John.
By Tia Byer, Nicoletta Peddis, and Jenna Houston
The late Robin Williams in his infamous role in Dead Poet’s Society, claimed: “no matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world”. York St John’s ‘Words Matter’ blog has certainly reinforced this. This September the English Literature blog received a face lift. The previously known ‘Point Zero’ became ‘Words Matter’; transforming into a student platform to voice the relevance of literature in today’s society. In the inaugural lecture, Dr Kaley Kramer spoke of the importance of freedom of speech. The accessibility to literature both within and outside of academia has never before been so necessary. Living in ‘dangerous times’, the written word has become a form of weaponry, as well as a catalyst for hope. From articles about literary festivities taking place in the university and city, to personal posts about various achievements, endeavours and raising awareness about timeless issues affecting humanity; English Literature students at York St. John have been unafraid to make claim to the vitality of communication. This past year the blog has shown just how literary students can help us engage with and challenge issues and ideas presented to us in 2018.
Nothing has made more aware of the power of literature as engaging with the ‘words matter’ ethos as a writer. Spending the past two years writing meaningful words, engaging with the world we live in and challenging problematic issues and ideas, has broadened my horizons and gave my passion for literature a deeper meaning. I had the opportunity to write about ideas that I find challenging, or about contemporary issues that have affected me personally. In January 2017, I proposed a blog post about how I felt as an EU citizen about Brexit. At first I felt very apprehensive about writing about it, because it was an issue I was very worried about. Also, I had never written a political post for the blog before and I was aware of the backlash that writers faced in the media when voicing concern about Brexit. The strength that words gave me in the process of writing, and the backing I received from the Literature team after I had written it transformed the whole experience. I went from being very worried to feeling hopeful and courageous. If this experience has taught me something, it is that writing is bravery.
Throughout this year the importance of sharing ideas informed the creation of ‘dissertation corner’. This was an influential feature in many ways, both for us as editors, learning to synthesize information gathered in interviews, but also as literary critics widening our own understanding of so many areas of research. In the process of interviewing third years it was interesting to observe the different areas of research that each of us have discovered, and why these topics have been so influential on each individual. Behind each dissertation, was a personal story, and a passion that made each project exciting and unique. Sharing ideas has been key throughout our degrees, emphasizing the urgency of listening, thinking and collaborating with others. The innovation of ‘dissertation corner’ on the blog seems to have brought third years closer together and has highlighted the power of language and discussion. Interviewing individuals outside of seminars demonstrated everyone’s enthusiasm for literature, highlighting that a discussion of literature is urgent, and necessary.
It has been a pleasure for all three of us to write and edit for the literature blog this year. The responsibility of being sub-editors has been invaluable to our own writing experience. We cannot wait to see next years blog posts, and continue our ‘words matter’ experience as readers.