The Literary Smorgasbord: Liam Knight on Studying English

This piece is in a response to our post What Are You Doing Here? about the reasons for studying English.  Liam Knight is going into his second year of the subject, and gives us thoughts below.  If you’d like to do the same, do get in touch by email –


“Welcome to the University of Nottingham’s School of English! Our waitresses will bring you your plates after taking your drinks orders. The buffet is just around the corner, what was it that you’re after, sir? Prose? Poetry? Drama? Yup, we’ve got it all. Do you have a particular taste at all? No? Well, we’ve got some gothic delicacies over there, a whole variety of 16th century courses on the first table, and for the really brave, some experimental dishes in the far corner. Oh, and did I mention that the food we have on offer here is award winning?”

In my opinion, a good book is like a good meal. You take your time over it, savouring each morsel, everyone has different tastes, and after a particularly large one, you want to go to sleep. Exploring new tastes is exciting, and that is exactly what this course has offered: exploration. After all, why go to an international buffet if you’re only going to stick to pizza? In the first year – or, first trip up to the buffet, if you prefer – you pile your plate high with various cuisines that are on offer. Admittedly, there were some items that I devoured in an instant and others that I nibbled at tentatively – “are you sure this is food?!” – but in the end, I felt nourished. This nourishment, whether it is physical or mental, is why I found myself in Nottingham. The exploration and variety on offer certainly adds to this feeling too, and whilst there may be some items of food that I know I won’t be touching again, at least I can say that I’ve tried them!

These feelings of exploration and nourishment are definitely some of the most important ones that I’ve taken from my first year in Nottingham. Soon, I’ll be going back to the buffet table for my second plate, and I’ll be piling it high my favourites both old and new. I know that all this will be of benefit to me and my fellow students in the future, whatever it is we end up doing. Stepping away from the food metaphor, I can definitely say that my eyes have been opened up to many avenues within literature that I had not witnessed, nor even considered, beforehand. My end goal is to be a published author, and I know that my current writing is much better than it was a year ago, thanks to the literary exploration, and I can hardly fathom where it will be after another one-two-three years.

And that, I guess, is why I’ve found myself in Nottingham.


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