If you’re interesting enough, no one cares about your grades

Cultural commentator Anne Sophia Hermansen’s time as a comparative literature student was far from easy. But she’s proud to be a humanist and believes that humanities graduates are in demand on the private job market – if they can shake off the mumbo jumbo.

[Translate to English:] Kulturkommentator og alumne fra Aarhus Universitet Anne Sophia Hermansen
Anne Sophia Hermansen is a cultural commentator at the national newspaper Berlingske and a former cultural editor for the same newspaper. She’s work as head of press the finance sector and as a radio host, and she has multiple times been singled out as one of the most influential women in public debate. Anne Sophie Hermansen has an MA in comparative literature with a supplementary course in history of ideas and philosophy at Aarhus University. Photo: Oscar Scott Carl.

What is your favourite memory from your university days?

My studies were heavily affected by my dad’s illness and death, and with him I lost my entire family. An existential hydrogen bomb detonated under my entire academic career and catapulted me into a kind of quarter-life crisis. My favourite memory is probably from the day I turned in my MA and started living instead.

Who was your favourite teacher?

If I had to highlight one teacher from AU, it would be Hans Fink, who said this very important thing on the first day of philosophy class: “Welcome to your last happy day. You’re going to discover that the more you know, the unhappier you’ll become.” Knowledge makes us more intelligent and helps us meaningfully navigate in the world, but there’s truth in the saying ‘ignorance is bliss’. Once, I also took a class with Bo Tao Michaëlis at KUA, where I learnt how to work with reviews and cultural journalism. He was humorous, vibrant and a complete anarchist. He was spiritually present and he taught me how to work creatively with texts and dare to challenge my assumptions. That single half-year course taught me more than all of the others combined.

What piece of advice do you wish that you had been given when you started your first job?

I spent the first few years as a new graduate having worry-induced diarrhoea about being a humanities graduate and maybe not fitting into the business and industry world. That turned out to be a lie. Humanists are in high demand in the private sector, especially if they can unlearn the mystical newspeak they learn at the university. Nobody can stand mumbo jumbo, and if a person is interesting enough, nobody cares about their grades. I’ve been a manager for many years, and I’ve never seen a single diploma. I would rather hear about people’s successes and failures.  

Are you still in contact with anyone from your time at AU?

A few. Some of them are in the publishing industry and others are in the cultural sector, so I see some of them once in a while. 

What are your current interests?

Soon I’ll be taking a leave of absence to write a book. I’ve been talking about that for 20 years. Time to put my money where my mouth is. I’m also very interested in the cultural changes that MeToo has initiated, and I often write about about identity politics and formative education as well My job is to describe the spirit of the times, which currently seems to be tripping on acid, so there’s no lack of material.