Is studying literature important?

Published on 20 May 2024 at 10:01

Is studying literature important?

I am someone who studies English literature at A-level and so my natural instinct whenever I am asked this question is "yes" but am I actually making an informed recommendation or am I merely presenting a bias? 


English literature is the study of an authors methods. We look at what it is that an author has done in order to make the writing effective or ineffective. Now this is incredibly fascinating for me but I know that many people wouldn't find literature anywhere near as interesting as I do and so I am going to try an examine the practical applications of studying literature and so what you will be able to take away from the classroom and the texts and into the real world.


Furthermore, the rise of platforms such as BookTok and StudyTube subjects like English literature have become more desirable to a new generation of students. I would almost consider that an age of knowledge is growing as more students - particularly those of working class backgrounds- are seeing the benefits of education begin to reach them but also now hold a hunger and desire to learn. 


The first thing that comes to mind for me is the way we can apply English Literature to politics. Now whether politics is something you study, or you are just the average person not really sure what or who to believe, Literature can be really useful for this. 

You learn how to pick apart someones words and are knowledgeable on the methods of persuasion. You are able to recognize othering and this is really useful to decipher where political parties and political leaders are specifically trying to manipulate you to their cause and prevent you thinking for yourself. 


Another rather practical use of English literature is that you learn to have high standards for others. Many literature texts present character love interests (especially male ones) that are NOT good people and are frankly rather disgusting and so you slowly start to expect much more from people as you are made uncomfortable by any signs of someone behaving like the characters you read and study. 


However, I cannot simply just speak about the advantages of studying English literature because there certainly are some disadvantages and you wouldn't be able to see my writing as credible without a balance of opinion. 


English literature is to some respect the art of overthinking everything. Hence if you find you have a natural knack for the subject you may already be an over-thinker and through studying the subject may develop the bad habit of overthinking which can be detrimental to most aspects of life.


You may also find that you whilst studying that many literature texts are absolutely heartbreaking and express complex and somewhat triggering. 


It could also be suggested that English literature is now "out of fashion" so to say. The degree of English literature for instance does not directly correlate to a career in the same way that medicine would. And roles that need ESCAPE (English, Social sciences, Classics and the Pursuit of Education) generally pay less and are less respected in society.


Yet I don't think that we should dismiss the subject because of this. For a starters many would consider Maths and English's opposite and neither of the two will directly correlate to a career in the way that Medicine does. Instead they lead to careers across the spectrum of work. And the rise of romanticism through social media has propelled the popularity and desire to live through words.


I feel thought that the reason that English literature is important is because it allows us to understand the voices of those that society casts aside and also it makes us more empathetic people learning to comprehend the nature of humanity and the perfect imperfections that we have. 



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