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ELIZABETH HOWLETT & LEICESTER MERCURY

An article about academic snobbery and unfair assumptions of Film Studies, written by yours truly (Elizabeth Howlett) and published in Leicester Mercury newspaper, enjoy!

Student, Elizabeth Howlett hits back at those who tell her “that’s not a proper degree!”

When the topic of conversation turns to my degree, I always get apprehensive. The apprehension comes with experience. Are these people on my side, or are they going to sneer at me? This is because I am a film student.

Sometimes, this means I am asked if I make films. I get to watch the disappointment wash over people’s faces when I admit that no, I don’t, unfortunately, make films. I just study film.

“So you just sit around all day and watch films? That isn’t a degree” is something I hear all too often. Quite frankly, I’ve had enough.

I am dumbfounded by academic snobbery. I find it extremely vexing that individuals don’t realise how passionate I am about my course.

When I explained to an old colleague that I wanted to eventually get a PhD in film, they erupted with: “So you would be Dr DVD – what a waste of time!”

I smiled at his lame joke, as I remembered my ever-growing debt of more than £11,000 is seen, by some at least, as some sort of practical joke.

I do watch a lot of films, but that’s a small part of the course. We also have to write a considerable amount of investigative, psychological and historical-based essays that usually see us silly film students buried under a pile of books.

I defy anyone who thinks that “genre theory” is easy to give it a try. It is the most frustrating and complicated part of my degree.

I do it because I am passionate about it and I take it to heart when I get told my degree is a waste of time.

Film history has been the cornerstone of social activity. As opinions and situations have changed, film has changed with it.

I’d say that film has arguably helped shape society in a way that no other media form has been able to do. Call me old-fashioned, but I have decided to study to benefit myself, rather than my bank balance (although a career in film, regardless of the route I take, is always going to provide a fruitful job).

I have chosen a degree that can take me to anywhere I want to go. But, more important than that, I have chosen to study something I love.

When the Lumiere brothers showed the first publicly projected film – footage of a train pulling into the station – it is said that the audience ran screaming out of the cinema in fear.

That was in 1895. Why are we still running from the marvel of film today?

Elizabeth Howlett, 22, is a third year student in film and journalism at De Montfort University.

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