School of Humanities

News and events from the University of Brighton's Humanities programme areas

English graduate Elle Whitcroft talks about how one module changed her life

I chose the Literature and Media course at Brighton because like the city, it seemed diverse, interdisciplinary, and expansive — it definitely ended up being all of these things.

I was inspired by both the Media and Literature department teachers, who always encouraged my to follow my interests — feminist critiques, European cinema, Russian Literature and Comic Studies were my favourite. I still remember how much time every teacher gave me to discuss my ideas in full — they were so generous. I was always stimulated, always asking questions, and each course inspired me in a new way — I ended up joining various political and social groups which I found through the university, and these networks had a huge impact in developing my confidence and identity while in Brighton. 

In my third year, I took a course called “Comics Studies”, and it completely changed how I studied image and text. During my A-levels, I took Photography, Literature, and History, and Comics Studies helped me put these interests together: how to critically read images, how context informs content, and how image and text communicate. I decided to follow the course’s content further, and wrote my dissertation on comics, for which I earned a first. After this, I knew I wanted to go further with academia, and I immediately wrote my MA application. My BA in Literature and Media was a crucial turning point in developing my communication, writing skills and confidence to think critically. The BA really provided me the space and stimulation I needed to progress my academic skills and move forward. 

I think most importantly, my BA studies helped me boost my creative confidence and monitor my progress: the more I thought individually, unconventionally, and creatively, the better I did. I always loved learning, but I wasn’t great at studying during Secondary school — like a lot of students, learning wasn’t straight-forward for me. My BA really changed that — it taught me how to ask questions, follow different paths, and apply myself academically, which before undergraduate study, I didn’t really think was for me — but here I am! Now, I’m working on my own PhD project, which looks at race and trends in children’s comics — a path which started during my BA.

Since leaving Brighton University, I’ve been between non-academic jobs as well as academia, which really worked for me. I know some people take a straight academic route, from BA to MA to PhD, but I personally felt that non-academic jobs kept me grounded and up-to-date with education.  After completing an MA in Modern and Contemporary Literature, I worked in SEN and mainstream primary schools for two years, applying my BA and MA studies in image and text to learning and teaching. I did this for a couple of years, but when I got too comfortable, I thought “it’s now or never”, and I wrote my PhD proposal. I was accepted into the English department at Sussex University where I’m currently finishing my second year doctoral studies. 

One of the great things about doing a PhD, for me, is the outreach work. I try to stay involved in primary and secondary learning alongside teaching undergraduates — I design and teach interdisciplinary courses around art history, comics, and literature to local schools. Ultimately, my goal is to keep teaching and creating interdisciplinary content; whether in university, secondary, or primary. The great thing about comics is that they reach and engage all levels of learning!

Find out more about BA(Hons) Media and English Literature

Elle Whitcroft

Kate Miller • July 11, 2019


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