Amy explains how for them, the choice of tutor was critical:
"Karín Lesnik-Oberstein inspired me from my first year, when she ran a lecture on 'Little House in the Big Woods' and spoke about the influence on the writing of childhood when writing as an adult. She encouraged me to think completely outside the box in a way I had never done before, and it allowed me to explore new topics and analysis and be less restricted in my writing."
Finding new inspiration
Looking back, the experience that stood out most for Amy was the opportunity to follow their interests. Amy was most inspired by:
"…the freedom to write about whatever I wanted, with whatever texts I wanted. I expressed to my professors that I thought the visual imagery of Frozen 2 was really interesting, and I thought it had great potential for an essay. They didn't even hesitate; they approved it and allowed me to explore the thematic issues that arose through the animation. That was one of my favourite essays to write, and it made me realise that the idea I had to write about certain texts or texts that were published in a certain time was false; if I found something interesting that inspired me, then I could write about it. This has stuck with me now that I have graduated, and has made me want to pursue a creative career where I can continue to think outside the box and challenge myself."
Making friends whilst acquiring new skills
Amy enjoyed many aspects of their time at Reading:
"The format of the seminars definitely helped me with my studies. I made so many new friends during my master's, and we all got along so well, so outside of class time we would discuss texts and themes together - we've even continued it up until now, 4 months after we graduated! During class, we would bounce ideas off each other and discuss texts in such a way that it was a lot easier for me to formulate my own ideas when I was able to discuss it with other people. These are connections I will keep for the rest of my life, I have no doubt."
"I also loved being able to write about things that interested me, even if it was outside of my comfort zone. I had always been against writing on critical theory essays, but by the end of my master's I ended up writing my entire dissertation on some! I am so proud of myself for that, as it was something I never thought I would do, but I was inspired by my professors and the passion I had for the subject to write about it extensively."
Preparing for a career
Amy has had to put their long-term career plans on pause because of the pandemic. After graduating in December they have been working as an Academic Mentor for the Disability Advisory team at the University.
"It means I can continue to 'study' (albeit study through other people!), stay organised, and stick to deadlines, something I've missed since finishing my degree. Doing a master's prepared me well for this role, as I went through what all the current students are going through at the moment, so I know what it's like to be completely isolated from society and university whilst continuing their studies."
"Once the job market has opened up a bit more and restrictions have eased, my ideal role would be as an Editorial Assistant at a children's book publishing company. I want to continue to write and read, and there is nothing I am more passionate about than children's and Young Adult books."
"Another career path I am interested in is getting my PhD, which I would also study at Reading under the tutelage of Karín Lesnik-Oberstein once again. This is something I want to do in a few years however, as I would like to commit to it full-time with more financial security."
Advice to prospective students
"I would say to make sure you are doing it because you are interested in it, and it's something you are passionate about. Make sure you have a good support network and don't be afraid to email your professors and ask lots of questions! The MRes Children's Literature is made for you to question everything and engage with everything. If there is a certain topic or text you want to talk about, then do it!"