What’s the use of literature? A panel discussion chaired by Polly Toynbee on studying English

Filed under: Non-fiction

Aminatta Forna, Priyamvada Gopal, Clare Lees, Andrew Motion, Ross Raisin and Michael Wood discussing the study of English, chaired by Polly Toynbee.

As the numbers applying to read English Literature at university rise, financial support for the arts falls, and higher education faces fundamental changes to its funding, King’s College London and the Royal Society of Literature ask: What’s The Use Of Literature?

Polly Toynbee chairs a panel of three – Priyamvada Gopal, Clare Lees and Michael Wood – to address the following questions:

  • Does a degree in English Literature equip you for life?
  • How can public funding for the study of arts subjects be justified when there is a shortage of funding for the study of the sciences?
  • Do those wanting to study English Literature beyond A level really need to go to university to do so?

The discussion is interspersed with personal reflections from Andrew Motion and Ross Raisin on what studying English Literature at university meant to them, and from Aminatta Forna on how literature helps her understand the world.

Recorded on Monday 20 June 2011.

Related RSL Fellows

Michael Wood 1992