Friday, 31 May 2013

4 myths about doing an Art History degree: true or false?

Yesterday I handed in my final piece of assessed work to the department office, thus ending my travails in the academic world. I'd been desperately yearning for that day to come all month. What motivated me through dissertation pain and revision strife was the feeling that I assumed I would experience on May 30th, my final deadline: triumph, over the vanquishing of the three-headed monster that was my degree.
But that feeling was a dream, nothing more. It turns out that no matter how much you celebrate, finishing your degree is actually a little bit of an anti-climax, until you know your results. In the meantime, you have to find distractions to stop yourself freaking out about results, jobs, the future, money, aaaaargh stop stop make it stop!!!!!

So here's my distraction for today. I thought I'd help clear up some rumours about the Art History degree that people used to spout at me when I first told them I was doing it.

Myth 1: Art History is for just posh people, like Kate Middleton and Prince William.  
FALSE, although there's no smoke without fire. I think that because most private schools teach Art History, for privately-educated pupils it's just like choosing any other subject, like Geography. It's not commonly taught at comprehensives, and so it's not as popular a choice at state schools. However, I chose Art History because I liked Art and History, and I don't feel that never having studied at school really hindered me, although it seemed very overwhelming at first. Do be aware that if you spend too much time with posh people, you might end up catching their accent and start sounding like someone from Made In Chelsea; that is sew ambarrahseng when you go back home.

Myth 2: You'll never get a job with an Art History degree.
KIND OF FALSE - you'll get a job, just probably not a very well-paid one, unless you have contacts.This isn't exclusive to the Art History degree, though; all arts students are finding it difficult, with the job market at the moment. What I hope employers do appreciate is that an Art History degree requires practise in more disciplines than, say, a straight History degree: for example, we have to handle visual and written sources with equal skill, rather than simply focusing on the written. 

Myth 3: Art History students barely have any timetabled hours.
TRUE - this year I have had 4 timetabled hours a week for two terms, and nothing timetabled for the last term. It's so not worth the tuition fees, which probably go straight to the Chemistry department. I really feel like this is unfair - students should get what they pay for. Surely science students can afford to pay more for their degrees anyway, since they'll earn way more than arts students? Also, you might think it's great having so much free time, but it's not really - there's always a cloud of guilt over your head every time you're not doing work or something to bolster your CV.

Myth 4: Art History, that's so pretentious. It has no relevance to the real world.
FALSE - any study of history has relevance to the real world because history repeats itself, you idiot. And don't you dare call me pretentious! You're so pretentious for using the word 'pretentious'!
(but also)
TRUE - if you don't keep a firm grasp in reality, you end up having really stupid conversations about art theory and artists and the art world, which probably don't really matter in the grand scheme of things. Sometimes you'll feel like what you read and write about isn't at all relevant, but when you do read about stuff that is similar to what's going on today, it's a really good feeling.
If any of you have heard any more rumours about Art History, please share them below, I'd love to hear them!

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