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Why Study Literature?

05.15.2023 • 5 min read

Learn about the value and benefits of studying literature: how it develops our skills as well as shapes our understanding of the society we live in.

What Is Literature?

The benefits of studying literature.

Literature & Outlier.org

Many libraries in the U.S. are under attack.

From small towns to big cities, it’s more common to see protests outside of libraries. Libraries are under the microscope and being scrutinized for what content they have on their shelves.

Some people see certain books as a threat to society. While others believe everyone has a right to access any information they wish. The fact is literature is so powerful some people see it as dangerous and want to choose what the public has a right to read.

This is not the first time in history that people have tried to censor literature for what it says. So what really is literature and why is it so powerful?

In this article, we’ll define literature, talk about the history of literature, and the benefits of studying literature in college.

Literature is an art form that uses language to create imaginative experiences. It includes poetry, drama, fiction, and nonfiction.

Literature communicates ideas and emotions.It entertains, educates, and inspires readers. Literature explores complex themes and is an important part of human culture.

From its original Latin derivative, "writing formed with letters," to its current definition, a "body of written works," our understanding of literature has evolved.

Literature explains society and culture. It both criticizes and affirms cultural values based on the writer’s perceptions. It expresses and explores the human condition. It looks back to the past and onward toward the future.

As literature represents the culture and history of a language or people, the study of literature has great value. To study literature means looking deeply into a large body of written work and examining it as an art form.

Of course, there are many different literary genres, or types of literature. At a liberal arts school , a literature program, a student would study these genres extensively and understand the historical and cultural context they represent.

Literary Fiction vs. Genre Fiction

Students in a college literature program examine many forms of literature, including:

Some definitions of literature separate fiction into 2 categories: literary fiction and genre fiction. Genre fiction consists of more popular literature read for entertainment. Some examples of genre fiction include crime, fantasy, and science fiction stories.

Literary fiction explores themes of the human condition. These stories cannot be further categorized and are read primarily for a philosophical search for the meaning of life. Examples of literary fiction include The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Beloved by Toni Morrison.

You can discover more distinctions by studying literature in depth.

1. Literature Develops Communication Skills

The foundation of literature is the English Language. By reading literature, you can improve your knowledge of language: vocabulary, grammar, sentence structure, content creation, and more. When you immerse yourself in William Shakespeare, Celeste Ng, or Chinua Achebe, you're absorbing new words, expressions, and ideas—without even realizing it.

You can use everything you learn to improve your own writing and communication skills . You will use these skills beyond high school and college. In our everyday lives, we navigate personal relationships, craft emails, present projects, collaborate with teammates, analyze data, and more.

Yuval Noah Harari has written much of his own literature on the history and success of the human race. In his book Sapiens, he emphasizes our ability to craft stories as one of our most valuable skills: " Fiction has enabled us not merely to imagine things, but to do so collectively.” Through these collective stories, we learn about the human experience, both in smaller interpersonal ways and on a larger, more global scale.

2. Literature Teaches Us About the Human Condition

Literature helps us reflect on the human experience, teaching us about who we are and the world we live in. It presents a range of emotions, from love to anger to grief to happiness. It gives us insight and context about societal norms and cultural traditions.

It explores our history and our present; it imagines our futures. It introduces us to new ways of thinking and living, compelling us to think critically and creatively about our own experiences.

Through literature, we see we're not alone in our thoughts and feelings. The characters we read about have already experienced similar difficulties and worked to solve or change them, giving us the blueprint to do the same.

Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice goes beyond social commentary to explore the complexities of familial relationships, romantic relationships, and friendships. Mr. Darcy insults Elizabeth Bennet without meaning to, Elizabeth Bennet makes harsh judgments without knowing all the facts, and Mrs. Bennet worries about her daughter's future constantly. We can see ourselves in them.

3. Literature Teaches Us About Empathy

When we connect with literature's characters and narratives, we learn how to empathize with others. While we’re not physically experiencing the raging seas in Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse or the loss of a loved one in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, we are swept up in the story and the emotion. This helps us develop empathy and emotional intelligence.

In a 2006 study , professors at the University of Toronto concluded a lifetime exposure to literary fiction positively correlated with advanced social ability. In 2020, the Harvard Business Review encouraged business students to read literary works to enhance their abilities to keep an open mind, process information, and make effective decisions.

4. Literature Helps Us Explore New Ideas

With words, and not actions, authors create spaces where we can explore new ideas, new structures, new concepts, and new products. When the only limit is your imagination, anything is possible in creative writing.

We can dive into the past to understand British society at the turn of the 19th century in Austen's Pride and Prejudice or jump into potential futures through Harari's Homo Deus. We can consider alternative futures like that in George Orwell's 1984 or conduct experiments in Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

We don't encounter monsters or humanoid robots in our everyday lives (at least we hope not!). But when we explore them through literature, we’re equipped to consider, challenge, and analyze concepts we don't yet know or understand. This practice opens our minds and allows us to be more flexible when we face the new and unknown. These critical thinking skills enable us to process information easier.

5. Literature Changes the Way We Think

With everything we learn from literature and the skills it helps us develop, literature changes the way we think, work, and act.

When we can think more critically, we arrive at different conclusions. When we open our minds and empathize with others, we better accept and tolerate differences. When we can articulate and communicate effectively, we work better together to achieve and succeed.

Whether English literature or Russian literature or French literature, literature is the key to understanding ourselves and society.

Literature and Outlier.org

Looking to study literature and develop your own writing skills? Outlier.org’s cutting-edge College Writing course is a great place to start. Through interviews with celebrated writers and writing secrets from instructor John Kaag, you'll learn how to use words to express yourself and communicate more effectively.

The course explores:

How to level up your love letters

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Outlier courses are 100% online, so you can learn at your own pace from the comfort of your own home. At $149 per credit, you’ll save 50% compared to other college courses, all while earning transferable credits from the top-ranked University of Pittsburgh. If you decide to continue your education in literature, you can take the credit with you to the degree program of your choice.

It’s no doubt studying literature will give you a well-rounded education. It is through literature that societies have grown and developed—inspiring change throughout the world. Choosing to study literature will not only give you a glimpse into the past but help you articulate the present and inspire change in the future. By studying literature you will have the power to connect with others and truly touch their hearts and minds.

About the Author

Bob Patterson is a former Director of Admissions at Stanford University, UNC Chapel Hill, and UC Berkeley; Daisy Hill is the co-author of Uni in the USA…and beyond published by the Good Schools Guide 2019. Together, they have established MyGuidED, a new educational tool for students looking to apply to university (launching 2023).

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Why Do We Need To Study Literature? What Are The Benefits?


What is the importance of literature?

Benefits of studying literature, what are the reasons to study literature, benefits of literature to students.

This subject does not have any particular language across the world and religions. Still, every definition of literature aligns with one another and gives true meaning to this beautiful artistic subject.

The subject literature broadens our horizons. This particular subject gives us the opportunity to learn and understand those people and incidents which are very different yet important to know.

Our cultural heritage has literature as a very valuable part, which anybody can access very easily and get the most out of it to enrich their lives through different ways.

For some people, studying this particular subject can be daunting, but once you will understand to break the barrier, the texts of this subject will become one of the most entertaining, funny, romantic, yet tragic for you.

This subject has the ability to take us beyond our limited imagination and thoughts with respect to life to make us experience and live the life of a different community of people at different points in time.

It makes our brain grind itself both emotionally and intellectually to give us a deep knowledge of our society, history, and an actual understanding of our own lives.

You can get a very real glimpse of what you haven’t seen or when you weren’t present.

Literature enriches our experience in many ways.

If you want to know more about some common yet interesting things about daily life, you can check the articles on why do leaves fall and why do we fast .

The way literature gives relief from anxiety and stress, that not many subjects can give.

You won’t believe but just giving less time to reading and understanding literature for a very short period of time in the day can create good health for your brain and it a break from all the complex thinking. It slows down the heartbeat whenever we feel anxiety and this has been proved by the studies itself.

It takes the mind of readers away from the stress and worries in life.

World Literacy Foundation says that reading literature is one of the ways to inculcate a strong imagination and creativity within you. Because when we study literature, we start to create that particular scene in our mind which gives us a good concentration.

Watching movies is also nice but doesn’t need much imagination because we have the visuals in front of us.

Anyone with a short attention span can give a chance to literature to improve it. Haskins Laboratories for the Science of the Spoken and Written Word came out with research that concluded that the brain takes a larger span of time to understand reading rather than watching media.

Because sometimes, the books and novels get very challenging and complex with many twists within a story, which makes the brain divert its attention to every minor detail.

A window gets provided to those who do a study of literature to see the outer world through the eyes of literary genres. It makes you understand the way every society and culture is and with a historical record as well.

It’s like a pathway to give you new adventurous experiences. Good personal skills are also get developed through literature. The benefits with which the literature comes is in itself sufficient to know the importance of it.

Reading not just only helps in building a good vocab, but also helps in inculcating a good reasoning ability in children and adults.

Literature introduces you to a rich language, helps you develop and discover good skills and words, discover a new self, sense the problems in society by a critical view, explore texts with new perspectives, read about culture, understand the value of poetry, gain the literary skills of classics, and develop a good writing sense.

They realize the problems which the other characters face and first-handedly think about the solution for it.

They understand the reasoning of each and every character and respond to it. You can feel whenever the character in the book is getting successful or failing a task.

Having a good vocabulary gives good improvement to the communication skills.

And eventually helps in developing work relationships. You can develop and discover a new view on history (which most think is a boring subject) by your own self if you study it from a literature point of view.

You won’t believe it at first, but the reasons because which you should study literature are very much connected to the ways you should live your life on a daily basis.

People haven’t changed their thinking and feeling style. The emotions they used to feel then, are the same they feel now.

Every lesson you will learn will be applicable to your life in many ways.

When a child starts to read literature, they understand the human’s reactions to various situations and the nature of our heart as well. The texts of essays, poems of good poets, novel stories, and diaries play the role of bridging the gap between two very distant timelines and between different ethnicities as well.

They get the awareness of how to deal with certain situations and secure themselves from future problems. While reading classic literature, you will feel the connection to the outer world and its good principles.

Literature is a very useful tool to make a child understand the evils and goods of society.

Literature connects us to history. Many people consider history as an important part of our life.

But if we read this subject with the sense of memorizing it, we will never be able to love it. Students can enjoy it more if they develop the habit of reading it through literature.

The importance of empathy in society is a lot, else it will change into a dog-eat-dog society very soon, which is going to hurt everyone in turn. According to research, reading a number of literary works will develop empathy in people.

The works of literary fiction are effective in this phenomenon, because readers like to understand deeply what the characters of this particular story are going through, hence they want to understand their joy, sorrow, and problems.

People who read more and more have a good ability to discern the mind and feelings of people in the most logical way. Studying literature helps in developing an opportunity to inculcate the higher-order thinking skills in the mind of the reader.

When you analyze the view of one story, you actually start to develop good thinking skills in yourself. Students, after reading literature, tend to apply what they read in the course of their own experience in life.

They often compare the stories from books to their own life.

Growing older, they develop such a good sense of morality that they can give strong discussion points. Because of a continuous habit of analyzing stories and relating to them from their own point of view often becomes the plus point during any general talk.

Reading literature is very important for students as reading gives development to the thought process, inculcates knowledge and valuable lessons for our mind to be creative. The way books hold interesting stories, feelings, thoughts, and information is very unlikely to be seen in anything.

Texts in literary books make us understand that some things should not get underestimated and that's why they get taught in schools.

Student life has always been and will always be challenging and complex. Now if a little reading can help them understand some processes of life, then there’s nothing wrong with it, right?

Reading literature is a fun activity.

But also this fun activity comes with some benefits also for a student. When a student reads the word, its cognitive functions get stimulated and eventually sharpens the mind, especially that part that develops the critical analysis and concentration.

What student life has as a major component is the ability to write. Start by just reading one book, and you won’t believe the change which you will realize after writing something after it.

Today's students are even aware of many devices to explore and learn things from new perspectives about poetry, plays, art stuff, classics, cultures, ideas, and many other literary words by doing research on web media. In schools, often texts of Shakespeare and John Locke get read by students.

The way they used to write is considered as the writing of the future.

Students can do a study of literature very well through these two poets who had excellent skills with high value. Students can develop good skills and gain a lot if they will start reading a number of books related to literature either on the web or through a book from the beginning of their childhoods.

Here at Kidadl , we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for why do we need to study literature, then why not take a look at why do boats float or why do people dance?

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Dedicated and experienced, Nidhi is a professional content writer with a strong reputation for delivering high-quality work. She has contributed her expertise to esteemed organizations, including Network 18 Media and Investment Ltd. Driven by her insatiable curiosity and love for journalism and mass communication, Nidhi pursued a Bachelor of Arts degree from Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, graduating with distinction in 2021. During her college years, she discovered her passion for Video Journalism, showcasing her skills as a videographer for her institution. Nidhi's commitment to making a positive impact extends beyond her professional pursuits. Actively engaging in volunteer work, she has contributed to various events and initiatives throughout her academic career.

Bachelor of Fine Arts specializing in International Business

Vikhaash Sundararaj Bachelor of Fine Arts specializing in International Business

With a background in International Business Management, having completed his degree at the University of Hull. Vikhaash has volunteered with 'Teach For India' to help students create a monthly newsletter. In his free time, he enjoys sports and was the assistant captain of his school's hockey team. He has also gained marketing experience through an internship at Decathlon Sports India.

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1 What Is Literature and Why Do We Study It?

benefit of literature to you as a student essay

In this book created for my English 211 Literary Analysis introductory course for English literature and creative writing majors at the College of Western Idaho, I’ll introduce several different critical approaches that literary scholars may use to answer these questions.  The critical method we apply to a text can provide us with different perspectives as we learn to interpret a text and appreciate its meaning and beauty.

The existence of literature, however we define it, implies that we study literature. While people have been “studying” literature as long as literature has existed, the formal study of literature as we know it in college English literature courses began in the 1940s with the advent of New Criticism. The New Critics were formalists with a vested interest in defining literature–they were, after all, both creating and teaching about literary works. For them, literary criticism was, in fact, as John Crowe Ransom wrote in his 1942 essay “ Criticism, Inc., ” nothing less than “the business of literature.”

Responding to the concern that the study of literature at the university level was often more concerned with the history and life of the author than with the text itself, Ransom responded, “the students of the future must be permitted to study literature, and not merely about literature. But I think this is what the good students have always wanted to do. The wonder is that they have allowed themselves so long to be denied.”

We’ll learn more about New Criticism in Section Three. For now, let’s return to the two questions I posed earlier.

What is literature?

First, what is literature ? I know your high school teacher told you never to look up things on Wikipedia, but for the purposes of literary studies, Wikipedia can actually be an effective resource. You’ll notice that I link to Wikipedia articles occasionally in this book. Here’s how Wikipedia defines literature :

“ Literature  is any collection of  written  work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings specifically considered to be an  art  form, especially  prose   fiction ,  drama , and  poetry . [1]  In recent centuries, the definition has expanded to include  oral literature , much of which has been transcribed. [2] Literature is a method of recording, preserving, and transmitting knowledge and entertainment, and can also have a social, psychological, spiritual, or political role.”

This definition is well-suited for our purposes here because throughout this course, we will be considering several types of literary texts in a variety of contexts.

I’m a Classicist—a student of Greece and Rome and everything they touched—so I am always interested in words with Latin roots. The Latin root of our modern word literature  is  litera , or “letter.” Literature, then, is inextricably intertwined with the act of writing. But what kind of writing?

Who decides which texts are “literature”?

The second question is at least as important as the first one. If we agree that literature is somehow special and different from ordinary writing, then who decides which writings count as literature? Are English professors the only people who get to decide? What qualifications and training does someone need to determine whether or not a text is literature? What role do you as the reader play in this decision about a text?

Let’s consider a few examples of things that we would all probably classify as literature. I think we can all (probably) agree that the works of William Shakespeare are literature. We can look at Toni Morrison’s outstanding ouvre of work and conclude, along with the Nobel Prize Committee, that books such as Beloved   and  Song of Solomon   are literature. And if you’re taking a creative writing course and have been assigned the short stories of Raymond Carver or the poems of Joy Harjo , you’re probably convinced that these texts are literature too.

In each of these three cases, a different “deciding” mechanism is at play. First, with Shakespeare, there’s history and tradition. These plays that were written 500 years ago are still performed around the world and taught in high school and college English classes today. It seems we have consensus about the tragedies, histories, comedies, and sonnets of the Bard of Avon (or whoever wrote the plays).

In the second case, if you haven’t heard of Toni Morrison (and I am very sorry if you haven’t), you probably have heard of the Nobel Prize. This is one of the most prestigious awards given in literature, and since she’s a winner, we can safely assume that Toni Morrison’s works are literature.

Finally, your creative writing professor is an expert in their field. You know they have an MFA (and worked hard for it), so when they share their favorite short stories or poems with you, you trust that they are sharing works considered to be literature, even if you haven’t heard of Raymond Carver or Joy Harjo before taking their class.

(Aside: What about fanfiction? Is fanfiction literature?)

We may have to save the debate about fan fiction for another day, though I introduced it because there’s some fascinating and even literary award-winning fan fiction out there.

Returning to our question, what role do we as readers play in deciding whether something is literature? Like John Crowe Ransom quoted above, I think that the definition of literature should depend on more than the opinions of literary critics and literature professors.

I also want to note that contrary to some opinions, plenty of so-called genre fiction can also be classified as literature. The Nobel Prize winning author Kazuo Ishiguro has written both science fiction and historical fiction. Iain Banks , the British author of the critically acclaimed novel The Wasp Factory , published popular science fiction novels under the name Iain M. Banks. In other words, genre alone can’t tell us whether something is literature or not.

In this book, I want to give you the tools to decide for yourself. We’ll do this by exploring several different critical approaches that we can take to determine how a text functions and whether it is literature. These lenses can reveal different truths about the text, about our culture, and about ourselves as readers and scholars.

“Turf Wars”: Literary criticism vs. authors

It’s important to keep in mind that literature and literary theory have existed in conversation with each other since Aristotle used Sophocles’s play Oedipus Rex to define tragedy. We’ll look at how critical theory and literature complement and disagree with each other throughout this book. For most of literary history, the conversation was largely a friendly one.

But in the twenty-first century, there’s a rising tension between literature and criticism. In his 2016 book Literature Against Criticism: University English and Contemporary Fiction in Conflict, literary scholar Martin Paul Eve argues that twenty-first century authors have developed

a series of novelistic techniques that, whether deliberate or not on the part of the author, function to outmanoeuvre, contain, and determine academic reading practices. This desire to discipline university English through the manipulation and restriction of possible hermeneutic paths is, I contend, a result firstly of the fact that the metafictional paradigm of the high-postmodern era has pitched critical and creative discourses into a type of productive competition with one another. Such tensions and overlaps (or ‘turf wars’) have only increased in light of the ongoing breakdown of coherent theoretical definitions of ‘literature’ as distinct from ‘criticism’ (15).

One of Eve’s points is that by narrowly and rigidly defining the boundaries of literature, university English professors have inadvertently created a situation where the market increasingly defines what “literature” is, despite the protestations of the academy. In other words, the gatekeeper role that literary criticism once played is no longer as important to authors. For example, (almost) no one would call 50 Shades of Grey literature—but the salacious E.L James novel was the bestselling book of the decade from 2010-2019, with more than 35 million copies sold worldwide.

If anyone with a blog can get a six-figure publishing deal , does it still matter that students know how to recognize and analyze literature? I think so, for a few reasons.

  • First, the practice of reading critically helps you to become a better reader and writer, which will help you to succeed not only in college English courses but throughout your academic and professional career.
  • Second, analysis is a highly sought after and transferable skill. By learning to analyze literature, you’ll practice the same skills you would use to analyze anything important. “Data analyst” is one of the most sought after job positions in the New Economy—and if you can analyze Shakespeare, you can analyze data. Indeed.com’s list of top 10 transferable skills includes analytical skills , which they define as “the traits and abilities that allow you to observe, research and interpret a subject in order to develop complex ideas and solutions.”
  • Finally, and for me personally, most importantly, reading and understanding literature makes life make sense. As we read literature, we expand our sense of what is possible for ourselves and for humanity. In the challenges we collectively face today, understanding the world and our place in it will be important for imagining new futures.

A note about using generative artificial intelligence

As I was working on creating this textbook, ChatGPT exploded into academic consciousness. Excited about the possibilities of this new tool, I immediately began incorporating it into my classroom teaching. In this book, I have used ChatGPT to help me with outlining content in chapters. I also used ChatGPT to create sample essays for each critical lens we will study in the course. These essays are dry and rather soulless, but they do a good job of modeling how to apply a specific theory to a literary text. I chose John Donne’s poem “The Canonization” as the text for these essays so that you can see how the different theories illuminate different aspects of the text.

I encourage students in my courses to use ChatGPT in the following ways:

  • To generate ideas about an approach to a text.
  • To better understand basic concepts.
  • To assist with outlining an essay.
  • To check grammar, punctuation, spelling, paragraphing, and other grammar/syntax issues.

If you choose to use Chat GPT, please include a brief acknowledgment statement as an appendix to your paper after your Works Cited page explaining how you have used the tool in your work. Here is an example of how to do this from Monash University’s “ Acknowledging the Use of Generative Artificial Intelligence .”

I acknowledge the use of [insert AI system(s) and link] to [specific use of generative artificial intelligence]. The prompts used include [list of prompts]. The output from these prompts was used to [explain use].

Here is more information about how to cite the use of generative AI like ChatGPT in your work. The information below was adapted from “Acknowledging and Citing Generative AI in Academic Work” by Liza Long (CC BY 4.0).

The Modern Language Association (MLA) uses a template of core elements to create citations for a Works Cited page. MLA  asks students to apply this approach when citing any type of generative AI in their work. They provide the following guidelines:

Cite a generative AI tool whenever you paraphrase, quote, or incorporate into your own work any content (whether text, image, data, or other) that was created by it. Acknowledge all functional uses of the tool (like editing your prose or translating words) in a note, your text, or another suitable location. Take care to vet the secondary sources it cites. (MLA)

Here are some examples of how to use and cite generative AI with MLA style:

Example One: Paraphrasing Text

Let’s say that I am trying to generate ideas for a paper on Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story “The Yellow Wallpaper.” I ask ChatGPT to provide me with a summary and identify the story’s main themes. Here’s a  link to the chat . I decide that I will explore the problem of identity and self-expression in my paper.

My Paraphrase of ChatGPT with In-Text Citation

The problem of identity and self expression, especially for nineteenth-century women, is a major theme in “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (“Summarize the short story”).

Image of "Yellow Wallpaper Summary" chat with ChatGPT

Works Cited Entry

“Summarize the short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Include a breakdown of the main themes” prompt.  ChatGPT.  24 May Version, OpenAI, 20 Jul. 2023,  https://chat.openai.com/share/d1526b95-920c-48fc-a9be-83cd7dfa4be5 

Example Two: Quoting Text

In the same chat, I continue to ask ChatGPT about the theme of identity and self expression. Here’s an example of how I could quote the response in the body of my paper:

When I asked  ChatGPT  to describe the theme of identity and self expression, it noted that the eponymous yellow wallpaper acts as a symbol of the narrator’s self-repression. However, when prompted to share the scholarly sources that formed the basis of this observation,  ChatGPT  responded, “As an AI language model, I don’t have access to my training data, but I was trained on a mixture of licensed data, data created by human trainers, and publicly available data. OpenAI, the organization behind my development, has not publicly disclosed the specifics of the individual datasets used, including whether scholarly sources were specifically used” (“Summarize the short story”).

It’s worth noting here that ChatGPT can “ hallucinate ” fake sources. As a Microsoft training manual notes, these chatbots are “built to be persuasive, not truthful” (Weiss &Metz, 2023). The May 24, 2023 version will no longer respond to direct requests for references; however, I was able to get around this restriction fairly easily by asking for “resources” instead.

When I ask for resources to learn more about “The Yellow Wallpaper,” here is one source it recommends:

“Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper: A Symptomatic Reading” by Elaine R. Hedges: This scholarly article delves into the psychological and feminist themes of the story, analyzing the narrator’s experience and the implications of the yellow wallpaper on her mental state. It’s available in the journal “Studies in Short Fiction.” (“Summarize the short story”).

Using Google Scholar, I look up this source to see if it’s real. Unsurprisingly, this source is not a real one, but it does lead me to another (real) source: Kasmer, Lisa. “Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s’ The Yellow Wallpaper’: A Symptomatic Reading.”  Literature and Psychology  36.3 (1990): 1.

Note: ALWAYS check any sources that ChatGPT or other generative AI tools recommend.

For more information about integrating and citing generative artificial intelligence tools such as ChatGPT, please see this section of  Write What Matters.

I acknowledge that ChatGPT does not respect the individual rights of authors and artists and ignores concerns over copyright and intellectual property in its training; additionally, I acknowledge that the system was trained in part through the exploitation of precarious workers in the global south. In this work I specifically used ChatGPT to assist with outlining chapters, providing background information about critical lenses, and creating “model” essays for the critical lenses we will learn about together. I have included links to my chats in an appendix to this book.

Critical theories: A targeted approach to writing about literature

Ultimately, there’s not one “right” way to read a text. In this book. we will explore a variety of critical theories that scholars use to analyze literature. The book is organized around different targets that are associated with the approach introduced in each chapter. In the introduction, for example, our target is literature. In future chapters you’ll explore these targeted analysis techniques:

  • Author: Biographical Criticism
  • Text: New Criticism
  • Reader: Reader Response Criticism
  • Gap: Deconstruction (Post-Structuralism)
  • Context: New Historicism and Cultural Studies
  • Power: Marxist and Postcolonial Criticism
  • Mind: Psychological Criticism
  • Gender: Feminist, Post Feminist, and Queer Theory
  • Nature: Ecocriticism

Each chapter will feature the target image with the central approach in the center. You’ll read a brief introduction about the theory, explore some primary texts (both critical and literary), watch a video, and apply the theory to a primary text. Each one of these theories could be the subject of its own entire course, so keep in mind that our goal in this book is to introduce these theories and give you a basic familiarity with these tools for literary analysis. For more information and practice, I recommend Steven Lynn’s excellent Texts and Contexts: Writing about Literature with Critical Theory , which provides a similar introductory framework.

I am so excited to share these tools with you and see you grow as a literary scholar. As we explore each of these critical worlds, you’ll likely find that some critical theories feel more natural or logical to you than others. I find myself much more comfortable with deconstruction than with psychological criticism, for example. Pay attention to how these theories work for you because this will help you to expand your approaches to texts and prepare you for more advanced courses in literature.

P.S. If you want to know what my favorite book is, I usually tell people it’s Herman Melville’s Moby Dick . And I do love that book! But I really have no idea what my “favorite” book of all time is, let alone what my favorite book was last year. Every new book that I read is a window into another world and a template for me to make sense out of my own experience and better empathize with others. That’s why I love literature. I hope you’ll love this experience too.

writings in prose or verse, especially :  writings having excellence of form or expression and expressing ideas of permanent or universal interest (Merriam Webster)

Critical Worlds Copyright © 2024 by Liza Long is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Why Is Literature Important? (23 Reasons)

What’s the point of picking up a book when the world’s knowledge can be streamed directly into my ears or viewed on a screen, right?

But, stick with me for a moment.

With every turn of the page, literature challenges, comforts, and questions. It nurtures our capacity for empathy, enriches our language, and hones our critical thinking. It offers escape but also a confrontation with the truths of human existence—our joys, sorrows, ambitions, and fears.

Now, stick with me for a bit longer as we explore why literature is essential and how it has survived the test of time. Ready to turn the page? Let’s explore this together!

Table of Contents

Literature Fosters Empathy

Literature acts as a gateway into the lives, emotions, and experiences of others. By delving into a character’s journey, readers step out of their own lives and enter another’s world, broadening their emotional depth and fostering empathetic understanding.

  • Connection to Others : Through narratives, we connect with characters who may be vastly different from ourselves, allowing us to appreciate their struggles, joys, and sorrows.
  • Broadened Horizons : Exposure to diverse lifestyles and viewpoints broadens our worldview, aiding us in becoming more tolerant and appreciative of differences.
  • Emotional Depth : A poignant scene or a touching dialogue engraves deeper emotional understanding within us, which we then carry into our real-life interactions.

An example of empathy in literature is found in Harper Lee’s classic, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” where readers learn to understand and feel compassion for characters who confront racial injustice.

This tale, among others, extends the boundaries of our compassion beyond our immediate life circle and has the potential to affect social change through this expanded empathy.

Literature Stimulates Emotional Intelligence and Growth

Emotional intelligence is the capacity to be aware of and manage one’s own emotions and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. Literature educates the heart as much as the mind by illustrating the complexity of emotions.

  • Self-awareness: Recognizing personal emotions and their effects.
  • Self-regulation: Managing disruptive emotions and impulses.
  • Motivation: Relating one’s emotions to personal goals and objectives.
  • Empathy: Understanding the emotional makeup of others.
  • Social skills: Building and managing relationships effectively.

Readers may find themselves growing alongside characters, experiencing a maturation that parallels the protagonists’ evolutions. By dealing with fictional situations and conflicts, individuals become better equipped to face their challenges, making literature a catalyst for personal growth and development.

Literature Trains the Mind in Critical Thinking and Analytical Skills

Critical thinking can be defined as the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgment. It is a cornerstone of education and personal development.

In the context of literature, readers activate these skills by dissecting themes, symbols, and the motives of characters.

  • Questioning the text: Readers must consider the reasons behind events and characters’ decisions.
  • Analyzing structures: Understanding how stories are crafted, including plot, setting, and character development.
  • Interpreting meaning: Delving into themes, symbols, and metaphors to grasp deeper significance.

This mental exercise enhances the ability to critique and argue points effectively, which is an essential skill in many professional environments.

Take, for example, Sherlock Holmes stories, which aren’t just about following the detective’s brilliant deductions. They invite readers to think alongside Holmes, practicing deductive reasoning by picking out important details and drawing conclusions from them.

Literature Encourages Lifelong Learning and Curiosity

The pursuit of knowledge and the joy of curiosity are deeply embedded in the human spirit. Each book, story, or poem offers a new opportunity to learn something unknown or to see the world from a different perspective.

  • New topics and themes challenge readers to explore subjects they may never have considered.
  • Exposure to different writing styles and genres can inspire further reading and investigation.
  • Lifelong learning through literature contributes to personal fulfillment and professional success.

The diversity in learning styles and preferences illustrates how literature accommodates and nurtures an array of learning journeys, contributing to a well-rounded, informed individual.

Literature Enriches Language Skills and Vocabulary

Complex narratives challenge readers to understand context, double meanings, and sophisticated themes, expanding not only vocabulary but also cognitive abilities. 

  • Advanced Vocabulary: Reading exposes one to new words and ways of using them.
  • Language Patterns: Various literary works employ distinct styles, enhancing one’s grasp of grammatical structures.
  • Figurative Language: Metaphors, similes, and analogies in literature sharpen comprehension and usage of nuanced language.

Over time, frequent readers tend to articulate thoughts better, achieve higher academic performance, and become more effective communicators. Language mastery is foundational to success in many areas of life, and literature offers a rich, enjoyable path to achieving it.

Literature Enhances Communication and Writing Abilities

Literature offers readers a look into the art of conveying thoughts, emotions, and narratives effectively, laying the groundwork for strong speaking and writing abilities.

Enhancing Verbal Skills:

  • Dialogue: Literature often includes examples of dialogue that reflect how people speak and interact, providing a model for effective verbal communication.
  • Narrative Voice: The unique voices of characters or narrators teach us about tone and style, which can translate into better-spoken communication.

Writing, like communication, is refined through exposure to good literature. Analyzing an author’s crafting of sentences, or how they build tension and convey mood, can be immensely beneficial for one’s own writing.

Improving Written Expression:

  • Style: Every author has a distinctive style—a personal fingerprint of word choice and syntax, which aspiring writers can learn from.
  • Structure: The way a story is structured, from sentence length to paragraph layout, influences how readers perceive and understand content.

Literature Provides a Voice for Social and Political Discourse

Authors can influence public opinion and inspire change by presenting stories that highlight societal issues. Through the power of the written word, literature has the capacity to shine a light on injustice, question authority, and offer new perspectives.

  • It stimulates discussions on social justice, equity, and human rights.
  • Authors often use allegory and satire to comment on contemporary political climates.
  • Literature can be a form of resistance and a catalyst for democratic change.

Reading literature that deals with complex social and political themes can be a transformative experience. It helps readers understand different viewpoints and teaches them about the struggles of others.

When Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote “Uncle Tom’s Cabin, ” it was said to have laid the groundwork for the American Civil War by bringing the reality of slavery to readers in a poignant and humanizing manner.

Literature Bridges Gaps Between Diverse Cultures and Societies

World literature introduces readers to ways of life and belief systems unlike their own, promoting cross-cultural sensitivity and global citizenship.

  • Asian Literature: Explore Asian cultures through classic and contemporary works like “The Tale of Genji” and “The God of Small Things.”
  • African Literature: Explore the vibrant traditions and contemporary challenges of African societies through authors like Chinua Achebe and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie .
  • Middle Eastern Literature: Discover tales from ancient Arabian nights or contemporary reflections in works by authors like Khaled Hosseini .

By walking in the shoes of characters from around the world, readers gain a deeper appreciation of our shared humanity and the diversity that colors it. Literature serves as a bridge, connecting the reader to the global community and fostering unity through understanding.

Literature Enhances Our Understanding of History

Literature is a witness to history, capturing the essence of historical moments and the intricacies of lives lived during different eras. As much as history books record facts, literature infuses those facts with emotion and human experience.

  • Immersion into Periods: Whether through the accurate depictions of a period in historical fiction or symbolic representations in classics, literature offers an immersive view of the past.
  • Insight into Mindsets: Reading works from or about a specific time period provides insight into the thoughts and values of people from that era.
  • Comprehension of Events: Many authors incorporate significant historical events into their stories, allowing readers to understand the impact of these events on individuals and societies.

Books like “War and Peace” by Leo Tolstoy not only tell a tale but also bring the Napoleonic Wars to personal reality. They allow contemporary readers to feel the reverberations of the past in the comfort of the present.

Literature Develops Ethical Reasoning and Moral Understanding

Through stories, readers are exposed to complex scenarios where characters must make difficult choices. This exploration of right and wrong invites readers to contemplate moral complexities in a nuanced way.

  • Presents moral dilemmas: Readers evaluate characters’ choices, considering their own values in the process.
  • Reflects societal norms: Literature paints a picture of evolving ethical standards through various epochs and cultures.
  • Encourages reflection on consequences: The outcomes of actions in literature serve as cautionary or exemplary tales.

Reading about scenarios that challenge characters ethically allows individuals to explore their moral compasses within a safe and contemplative space. This vicarious exploration can lead to more nuanced ethical reasoning in one’s own life.

Literature Serves as a Medium for Escape and Mental Relaxation

Literature provides a respite in a fast-paced, often stressful world—a door to other worlds where the mind can wander freely, unwind, and rejuvenate. The act of reading is in itself a form of mental reprieve, a break from the immediacy of one’s own life.

Furthermore, this form of escapism also contributes positively to mental health. Literature’s transportive nature allows individuals to disconnect, recharge, and often return to their lives with renewed energy and a fresh perspective.

Literature Preserves Cultural Heritage and Traditions

Literature is a primary vehicle for sustaining the traditions and legacies of cultures worldwide. Each story, poem, or novel is a time capsule, enveloping the mores, beliefs, and expressions of the period it represents.

  • It captures and transmits oral and folk traditions.
  • It encapsulates the historical context and the zeitgeist of eras past.
  • It allows future generations to access and understand their cultural foundations and histories.

Epics like Homer’s “The Odyssey” faithfully conserve ancient Greece’s myths and social values, while classics like Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart” provide insight into pre-colonial life in Africa as well as the impact of colonialism on indigenous cultures.

Literature does not merely record cultural artifacts; it breathes life into them, ensuring their persistence through the ages and reinforcing a shared human heritage that transcends the written word.

Literature Encourages Imagination and Creativity

Losing oneself to a work of literature can ignite the spark of imagination and inspire creativity. Unlike the passive consumption of visual media, reading necessitates that we use our minds to visualize characters and worlds, thus exercising and expanding our creative muscles.

For both authors and readers, the creation and interpretation of stories serve as a means of personal expression and imaginative exploration.

Examples of this abound, one of which is C.S. Lewis’ s “Chronicles of Narnia” series, which has sparked not only the imagination of its readers but also numerous adaptations in film, theater, and music.

Literature Challenges Stereotypes

Often, stereotypes are simplified and widely held beliefs about a particular group of people or things that can be ingrained in society’s consciousness.

When we engage with literature, we encounter characters and cultures that are complex, nuanced, and diverse. Literature can make us question our preconceived notions about others by presenting us with a range of experiences and identities.

  • Breaking down barriers: Stories can expose readers to different cultures, lifestyles, and belief systems, promoting empathy and understanding.
  • A broader perspective: Through narratives that span various backgrounds, readers can question their own preconceived notions and potentially rethink their biases.

By offering an array of diverse perspectives within its pages, literature acts as a catalyst for broader thinking, urging us to consider viewpoints outside of our own experience.

Literature Can Help Us Develop Our Unique Voice

In the quest to find one’s voice—be it in writing, speaking, or through artistic expression—literature can be a guiding force. As we read, we unconsciously absorb these styles, which later influence the development of our own writing and speaking voices.

  • Experimentation: Sampling different genres and authors provides a wealth of vocabulary and rhetorical techniques to draw from when crafting our language.
  • Reflection: Analyzing authors’ choices in narrative and dialogue can lead to a more profound understanding of how we wish to present our ideas.

Whether inspired by the raw honesty of Maya Angelou or the piercing insight of George Orwell, as we read, we learn, and as we learn, we find new words for our feelings and thoughts, crafting a voice that’s truly our own.

Literature Encourages You to Learn Deeper

Engaging with literature often sparks a desire to dig deeper into a subject, whether motivated by a historical setting, a scientific concept, or a foreign culture described in a story. This pursuit of knowledge extends beyond the pages of the book into real-world understanding.

Readers not only gain insights from within the confines of the book’s universe but are also drawn to investigate and learn more about the real-world context. When a book like Dan Brown ‘s “The Da Vinci Code” entwines history with fiction, readers may find themselves delving into art history or religious studies.

Literature Can Inspire Us to Pursue Our Own Writing Dreams

For aspiring writers, the world of literature is not just an escape; it is a source of inspiration and a catalyst for one’s own creative endeavors. Each narrative is a nod to the potential writer within, suggesting, “You, too, have a story to tell.”

  • A reader might start journaling after connecting with a character’s introspective diary.
  • Another might draft a screenplay inspired by the vibrant imagery in a novel.
  • Or perhaps a poem sparks a blog, a memoir, or even a new genre altogether.

Whether it is keeping a journal, starting a blog, or drafting a novel, the inspiration derived from literature is a powerful motivator in the pursuit of personal writing objectives.

Literature Reflects Human Experiences

The power of literature to mirror the full spectrum of human experiences is unparalleled. Through stories, one can find reflections of love, loss, triumph, and the mundanities of everyday life. Readers often see pieces of their reality within the pages, a testament to the universal nature of literary themes.

  • Love and Relationships:  From the romance of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy in “Pride and Prejudice” to the tempestuous bond between Heathcliff and Catherine in “Wuthering Heights,” literature explores the complexities of relationships.
  • Conflict and Resolution:  The challenges faced by characters in narratives from “The Odyssey” to “The Lord of the Rings” reflect our own struggles and the pursuit of resolution.

Reading these stories validates our own experiences and emotions, giving us comfort and a sense of connection to others.

Literature Lets Us Time Travel

Imagine a machine that allows us to travel through time. Literature is that machine, not made of gears and levers but of words and ideas.

  • Past:  Journey to Victorian England with Charles Dickens or to Renaissance Italy with Dante Alighieri.
  • Future:  Explore dystopian societies through the lens of George Orwell or Aldous Huxley.

We travel back to learn or forward to dream, all within the span of pages. Unlike a history textbook’s linear recitation of facts, literature often weaves personal tales with the period’s cultural and social norms, giving a multidimensional view of the past or speculative futures.

Literature Lets Us Appreciate the Beauty of Words

The aesthetic pleasure derived from reading well-crafted sentences, the rhythm of poetry, and the eloquence of a compelling dialogue is one of literature’s greatest offerings. The beauty of words lies not just in their meaning but in their sound and structure, which can move and captivate readers.

Authors like Shakespeare and Jane Austen are celebrated for their eloquence and mastery of dialogue. The melodic potential of language comes to life in poetry, from the classics of Emily Dickinson to the contemporary works of Amanda Gorman.

Each passage, phrase, and word in literature holds the potential to inspire awe and admiration, reminding us of the evocative power of language.

Literature Gives You Something to Talk About With Others

Books are great conversation starters, providing endless topics for discussion. Whether it’s the latest bestseller or a timeless classic, literature opens the door for shared insights and lively debate.

  • Book clubs gather to dissect the latest bestseller.
  • Classroom debates over the themes of a classic novel.
  • Friendships are formed through mutual appreciation of a beloved series.

Sharing thoughts about literature can lead to stronger social bonds and a better understanding of different viewpoints. Moreover, it’s an opportunity to learn from others’ interpretations and gain insights you might have missed.

Literature Can Take You on New Adventures Without Leaving Home

Adventures await within the pages of books, offering escapes into worlds unknown without ever having to step outside. Whether it’s fantasy, science fiction, or adventure novels, literature has the unique ability to transport readers to different realms of possibility and imagination.

  • Explore New Worlds:  Whether it’s through the magical wardrobe to Narnia in C.S. Lewis ‘s beloved series or the warring kingdoms in George R.R. Martin ‘s “Game of Thrones,” readers experience the thrill of exploration.
  • Escape from Reality:  During trying times or moments of ennui, literature offers a sanctuary, a place to escape and recharge emotionally and mentally.

A reader’s imagination is the only ticket needed for these boundless adventures, proving that one can travel the world without ever stepping foot outside.

Literature Can Make Children Smarter

Introducing children to literature is not just about storytelling; it’s an investment in their cognitive development. From enhanced vocabulary to improved memory and analytical skills, reading lays the foundation for a lifetime of learning.

  • Cognitive Development: Stories stimulate young brains, fostering growth and connectivity.
  • Academic Achievement: Reading proficiency is strongly linked to success in other academic areas.
  • Imagination and Creativity: Literature opens doors to new worlds, encouraging innovative thinking.

Picture books, fairy tales, and young adult novels all contribute to the intellectual enrichment of children, showing that literature is not merely an amusement but a powerful educational tool.

Literature reminds us that despite our different paths, we all share experiences that stories capture so eloquently. Whether it’s a novel that keeps us company on a quiet evening or a poem that resonates with our deepest emotions, literature uniquely touches each of us on a personal level.

So next time you pick up a book, remember that you’re not just flipping through pages—you’re igniting a spark that can illuminate, transform, and heal. And it’s our collective responsibility to keep this flame alive, honoring the past and inspiring the future.

May the stories we read today light the way for the journeys of tomorrow!

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The Role of Literature in Education: Why It Matters

Esther Lombardi

Literature is more than just entertainment or a way to pass the time. It can shape our perspectives, challenge our beliefs, and inspire us to brood over the world. Literature is a valuable tool for developing critical thinking skills, empathy, and creativity in education. This post will explore why literature matters and how it can benefit students of all ages.

Literature Promotes Critical Thinking Skills

Reading literature requires active engagement and analysis, which helps develop critical thinking skills. When students read literature, they are forced to think deeply about the characters, themes, and messages presented in the text. They must analyze the author’s choices and consider how they contribute to the work’s overall meaning. Critical thinking is essential for success in many areas of life, including academics, careers, and personal relationships. Literature helps students become more thoughtful and independent thinkers by promoting critical thinking skills.

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Literature helps develop empathy and understanding.

Besides critical thinking skills, literature also helps students develop empathy and understanding. Through reading about characters from different backgrounds and experiences, students can gain a deeper understanding of the world around them. They can learn to see things from different perspectives and develop greater empathy for others. This is important in today’s diverse and interconnected world, where understanding and empathy are essential for building strong relationships and communities. By exposing students to a wide range of literature, educators can help foster a more compassionate and understanding society.

Literature Encourages Creativity and Imagination

Reading literature can spark creativity and imagination in students. By exposing them to different styles of writing, unique characters, and imaginative worlds, literature can inspire students to think outside the box and develop their creative ideas. This is important in a world where we value innovation and creativity. By encouraging students to read and engage with literature, educators can help foster a generation of creative thinkers and problem solvers.

Literature Provides a Window Into Different Cultures and Perspectives

One of the most critical roles of literature in education is its ability to provide a window into different cultures and perspectives. By reading literature from different parts of the world, students can better understand the experiences and perspectives of people from different backgrounds. This can help to promote empathy and understanding and can also help to break down stereotypes and prejudices. This is an essential skill for students to develop in a world that is becoming increasingly diverse.

Literature Can Inspire Personal Growth and Self-Reflection

Literature has the power to inspire personal growth and self-reflection in students. By reading about characters who face challenges and overcome them, students can learn valuable lessons about resilience, perseverance, and the importance of a positive attitude. Literature can help students reflect on their own experiences and emotions and provide a safe space to explore complex topics and feelings. This can be important for students who may not have access to other forms of emotional support or therapy.

Esther Lombardi

Esther A. Lombardi is a freelance writer and journalist with more than two decades of experience writing for an array of publications, online and offline. She also has a master's degree in English Literature with a background in Web Technology and Journalism. 

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Why study literature.

Literature helps us better understand our lives, ourselves, and the world around us. Encounters with literature develop the concepts of identification, imagination, and empathy. In our increasingly chaotic world, these skills matter deeply. Taking a deep dive into literature from different cultures allows you to both expand your ability to evaluate and discuss the work itself and also better understand what it tells us about the world, our own beliefs and values, and the beliefs and values of others.

Literature is for everyone, no matter what your future major or career may be. Studying literature tests your creative mind, inspiring innovation and change. Literature helps us use our written language as a practical, everyday tool that enlightens, educates, and inspires those who interact with it.

Practical Skills Gained Through the Study of Literature

Let’s start with what may not be obvious, through the study of literature you develop practical skills that are applicable to a wide variety of careers. Writing, research, and class discussions develops skills such as developing persuasive arguments, carrying out analysis, and communication in an articulate manner, all of which are important to professional success.

When you study literature with Gustavus Adolphus, you’ll don’t just read old books and write essays. For instance, you’ll learn to present with a small group, plan and lead discussions, collaborate on activities, and work with off-campus organizations. You’ll build skills such as writing and summarizing complex information in a concise way. You’ll dive into readings and films to develop your ability to detect and analyze important details. 

While you might not associate any of these skills specifically with the study of literature, the truth is that literature is a fascinating subject with multiple transferable skills useful across career paths from business and arts to the sciences and trades. 

A recent survey conducted on behalf of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU) found that the majority of hiring managers prioritize prospective employees who have skills that a literature degree can provide. Nearly all who were surveyed (an impressive 93%) agree that “a candidate’s demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than their undergraduate major.” A literature degree offers all of these skills — and more. 

Thus in the English Department  at Gustavus Adolphus, you’ll take courses through the study of literature that develop the skills that employers in all types of industries are looking for.

Get more information about studying literature at Gustavus Adolphus .

Why Do We Study Literature?

Beyond thinking only about the practical skills to land you a job after college, studying literature is a meaningful endeavor. Simply put, engaging with literary works written by people from various cultures, viewpoints, and historical periods broadens our understanding of other people and our overall worldview.

The study of literature also exercises your critical thinking skills that can be used in all aspects of your life and in any career. The experience of studying and discussing literature in a classroom prepares you to think critically on your own about areas such as film, news, and social media, sparking new conversations and raising insightful questions. 

Understanding Human Nature Through Literature

One of the most widely used forms of expression is the written word, and it has been for centuries. Whether you’re engrossed in the drama of an ancient play or a compelling contemporary novel, you can notice parallels between the characters and our own behavior and current events. 

Great literature also teaches us about significant life issues. From the beginning, we are raised on stories of struggle: humans against a vast array of challenges, whether they be other people, nature, or one’s own self. The struggle against a challenge is central to literature. By reading and analyzing the material you grow your understanding of why humans create conflict, how it can be resolved, and what you can do to ensure preservation for yourself, others, and the world around you.

Empathy and Emotional Growth: The Significance of Literature in Our Lives

Literature allows us a window into places, people, and situations we wouldn’t be able to experience otherwise. Literature can transport you to another time and place without ever having to leave your room. You experience these stories simply by reading them; imagining them to life in your mind. The feelings evoked, whether sad, angry, inspired, or blissfully happy, are ours to share with the characters in the book. 

Literary studies also help us develop a stronger sense of who we are and how we act in any given situation. In a 2023 study , researchers found that students with a higher reading ability level had better social-emotional skills than those at a comparatively lower reading level. While scientists are still working on the link between regular reading and empathy levels, there’s one thing we can say for sure: literature can stir emotions deep within us.

The Value of Studying Literature: A Comprehensive Approach

Literature is a concrete way to wake up our senses and bring the world into sharper focus. Studying literature can help us to observe the things around us — sharpening our ability to listen and hear, smell, taste, and touch. 

Literature deepens our thinking by bringing more awareness of our own values and worldview, but also those of others throughout the world and throughout history. Because literature illustrates concepts in a vivid manner, we can observe differing values and worldviews in action. Literature allows us to explore the implications of various values and worldviews and gives us an excellent opportunity to take a closer look at our own assumptions about the world and compare them with others. 

Crossing Cultural Boundaries: The Role of Writing and Literature

Literature broadens your horizons. Cross-cultural literary studies teach you how to read and interpret complex texts, write persuasive interpretations, and use theoretical frames for literary and cultural interpretation. 

Writing and literature join together to teach the importance of understanding imaginative works within their cultural and historical contexts. Studying the literary traditions of different cultures around the world provides you with a deeper understanding of what a culture's literature says about its people's values and world views. Specialized courses offer a more in-depth look at different groups of writers, time periods, countries, cultures, and writing styles.

Exploring the Connection Between Creative Writing and Studying Literature

Creative writing is the imaginative and expressive use of language to convey stories, ideas, and emotions. Unlike other forms of writing that primarily focus on conveying information, creative writing emphasizes originality and the ability to captivate readers through narrative innovation. It encompasses various genres, including fiction, poetry, drama, and creative nonfiction, allowing writers to explore a diverse range of styles and themes. In this field, writers often draw inspiration from their personal experiences, observations, or sheer imagination, crafting unique worlds and characters that resonate with readers.

Studying literature provides inspiration and examples for the creative writer. Creative writing in turn nurtures the development of literary skills.

English Degrees in Literature

A literature degree offers a wealth of invaluable skills in both writing and research as well as provides a unique insight into the human mind. A degree in literature is considered excellent preparation for industries from finance to law. The Gustavus Adolphus English Department offers degree programs in: 

  • English with a Literature and Film Track 
  • English with a Multi-Ethnic and Global Literatures and Film Track 
  • Communication Arts/Literature Teaching 

Expand Your World: Literature at Gustavus Adolphus

In addition to those enrolled in English degree programs, students from all majors are encouraged to take a literature class or two during their time at Gustavus. Each course allows you the chance to explore areas that interest you the most, whether that’s U.S. Indigenous Literatures or African Digital Literatures. It’s up to you! 

Regardless of where your interests lie, you’ll be inspired by knowledgeable, innovative faculty during your literary studies in the English Department at Gustavus Adolphus. Working with world-class English and literature faculty prepares you to make a positive impact on your community, your life, and those surrounding you. Get started on your own path today at Gustavus Adolphus College.

Schedule a campus tour today.

Why Our Students Study Literature

Students from all backgrounds find that their literature studies open their minds to unique perspectives and give them real-world skills — useful no matter what their major may be. Check out what our students have to say about how studying literature at Gustavus has influenced their approach to literature, education, and life.

"Creative writing has been a happy part of my life since I first learned to hold a pencil, so once I chose Gustavus, I considered my career as an English major a given. Perhaps I am a rare bird for that, being so sure of myself so soon. But I could not have anticipated how much I learned about the value of reading, in every area of life, through the English major; nor did I see its potential to shape me as a writer. No matter how straightforward a story may seem, the search for something deeper within it leads to all kinds of insights that, while perhaps not in line with the author's original intent (who knows?), teach you more about the world and the different ways people use language. The theory taught alongside literature, in combination with this analysis, gives you the power of perspective that is so essential to finding contentment and peace in communication with people who are different from you, in a way that is unique to the study of literature. To write you have to read, and to really read, you have to think, criticize, doubt, wonder, and stand amazed by words on the page. The English major showed me how to do that, and not only has it increased my skills as a writer, it has made me a more compassionate and honest person."

—Caitlin Skvorc

"I study literature because I believe there is power in stories. Literature is both intensely personal as well as a communal experience. I love examining how words, sentences, characters, plot lines, and tropes reveal who we are as humans. Humanity is a complicated thing and requires an infinite amount of words to describe and analyze. That's the joy of studying literature, there is always a new reality to discover."

—Mikaela Warner

"For me, the decision to study literature has been a struggle. Since I was young, I always enjoyed reading and being read to, but I always considered the actual study of literature to be made up; seriously, poets don’t actually try to "invoke" some other work. Literary devices? Some make-believe stuff that people invented to make English seem scientific. Although I enjoyed it, literature, to me, was studied only by those who weren’t smart enough to study something real, something provable.

As I understand it, those feelings are not uncommon. The difference for me, though (as compared to some other people I know), is that I grew out of them. I started really looking at rhetorical devices and the use of language. I started to see that, although it still was not science, it was art, and art is the greatest expression of that which is human. My goal is to learn as much as I can about the human condition, and what it really means to be human, in all aspects."

—David Lick

"By studying literature I find that this sense of confusion and search for self-discovery is a common theme. I am confident that my choice to be an English major is one that I will be satisfied with. Thus far, to be an English major entails more than just being able to read and write well. An English major must also strive to understand and interpret the importance that various forms of literature have had on the society of the past and the present. Being able to express opinions is another important aspect, as is starting a piece of literature with an open mind. These habits are also important when facing everyday life, not just literature.

The chance to read and write is something that everyone should be able to experience. Literature in all forms is everywhere in today’s society, and with this idea, it is clear just how important it is. Whether it is studied in the classroom, or read for pleasure or purpose, literature is a central part of many lives. It offers not only a chance to enlighten a person, but it also gives the chance to broaden one’s horizons and perspectives. In my case, having the opportunity to study literature in two different languages has helped me to find similarities in two different cultures, and to also find that although literature varies in form and content, it is important and it is a central part of many lives."

—Stephanie Conroy

"Reading and writing, the basic principles involved in the study of English, serve as the gateway to a deeper level of thought. After mastering these elementary skills, comprehension, analysis, and interpretation are learned and used to better educate oneself. Studying literature and observing personal reactions to the literature can make one more aware of his or her own values. English skills are helpful in every area of life. Reading, writing, comprehension, analysis, and interpretation increase efficiency in multiple ways including communication, documentation in other areas of study, and reflection of personal values. I believe there is no area of study that English and communication skills do not influence."

—Maria Freund

"Reading and writing, in general, are undoubtedly some of the most valuable skills one can have; obviously, having these skills makes it much easier for people to communicate and to participate in society. However, there exists a purpose for reading and writing outside of these immediate practical purposes; the written word can be used to enlighten, to persuade, to express emotion, or simply for enjoyment. In these forms the written word becomes an art form, and a way of reaching out to others through a personal experience between the writer and the reader. Reading is an excellent way to associate oneself with the great minds of history and peer into their own thoughts. Reading is surely one of the most effective ways one can expand oneself.

Literature is a way in which we can capture and interpret what has happened and is happening to us personally and to the world as a whole. An entire culture exists in the written word, documenting the collective thoughts of everyone who cared to share them with the world. Therefore, I believe that for one to truly be a part of human society, it is critical that one take part in the evolution and self-realization that is literature, even if only in the reading aspect. Writing, however, carries a grave importance, as literature simply would not exist in the accessible form it does without written word, and for that reason I believe all who can write should. One should take advantage of the great opportunity to be part of and contribute to the world and society in which he or she lives through writing. I see literature in the societal sense as a collective struggle to understand and make the best of the lives that we have all been given. Literature serves as a way to enrich our minds, and presents a way to improve the world not only through the beauty of its presence but through the ideas and tangible possibilities it possesses."

—Matt Beachey

"The best of my English teachers taught us literature because they wanted the art of it to expand our minds and help teach us new ways of seeing the world. I was taught to both see a work of literature as a way to understand the time it was written, and the people who produced it, and to find the parts of that work that spoke to me in my time and place. While I am skeptical about whether or not anyone can ever really understand a culture or a time prior to their own, I do know that many times literature and art provide insights that cold hard facts do not. Most of all I find that literature makes the differences more manageable and highlights the similarities between people. I can read a Greek tragedy two thousand years later and agree with things that some older white man was saying because he was a human being, and I am a human being. Although it may sound trite, I have had reading experiences that taught me more about what it means to live in this world.

Not everyone loves reading enough to do it in their spare time, but the people who do are the ones who get the most benefit out of what they read because they want to be there in that world that literature creates. I have met very intelligent people who do not read. But all of the interesting people I know read, whether or not they are particularly intelligent."

—Sybylla Yeoman Hendrix

"I read literature for a number of different reasons. Literature is an art full of passion and heart; it transcends the ages. Great literature hits on many different levels. Over the years authors have accomplished unfeasible tasks through the use of their words. Literature has prompted political and social change in societies and continues to do so to this day. It can be a battle cry for the proletariat to rise up and make a difference, and it can also provide personal counsel.

Literature sets me free from the responsibilities of this world, and at the same time, it ties me down to those same responsibilities. Some literature I read for an escape; to journey to a faraway land and go on a grand adventure with creatures beyond my imagination. Other literature has much more serious subject matter, and I read it to remind myself that life isn’t all cupcakes and ice cream."

—Ryan McGinty

"To me, literature is about the obsession with ideas. We read literature to discover and to learn about ideas and we write it to discover and to cultivate our own ideas. No lover of ideas can go without either reading or writing. For me, if I go too long without one or the other, I get this huge build-up of confused and jumbled ideas that suddenly overcome me and I just have to write them out in some form (philosophic prose, narrative, poetry, scribbled phrases, etc.). That must be why literature can appear in a multitude of forms: be it poetry or prose, the sonnet or the novel, the sestina or the short story, etc. All literature shares the common theme of the idea. Ideas explore, probe, inquire, and inspire. The reactions to such are all that become a part of the learning process. There is a great deal that literature can teach. Literature can teach to the individual and to all of society. It can teach us about the past and the present and even about the future. Subjects can be broad and far-reaching, but can also be specific. Literature teaches us about laughter and love, about remembering and forgetting. It can create emotion and warn us against our many human faults. It can attempt to disprove other ideas or attempt to find truth. I think we are all looking to find truth in some form or another. Oftentimes, the uncertainty of a specific meaning of a piece allows for its interpretation to be for the reader to decide. What is certain, however, is that there are things to be learned from literature that are specific to it, that cannot be attained through any other medium. To gather this knowledge and to experience its beauty all pertain to the importance of literature to me."

—Abby Travis

"Another reason that I enjoy reading so much is the places you can go to when you read. I know that that sounds pretty corny, like something on a PBS commercial, but I feel that there are a vast amount of experiences and people the reader gets to encounter in any work of literature."

—Stefan Kolis

"Although I concede that it is not absolutely necessary to major in English in order to gain perspective from literature, I feel that English is a good lens through which to view the world, both present and past. When I study a great work of literature, I not only gain insight into the universal truth about which the author has chosen to write, but I also, in my attempts to understand, can learn about the culture in which the author lived, the history surrounding the country of his origin, and the various intellectual, political, and artistic movements of the time. Thus the window to humanity that lies at the heart of all literature can act as a sort of connecting portal to the culture surrounding each individual author. The reader stands on the common ground of the universal truth around which a work is constructed – the point at which the reader’s world and the author’s meet – and begins to understand some of the motivations behind the author’s own quest for truth.

Great literature provides its readers with a window into various aspects of the human condition and a guide to the way we, as a species, relate to one another and to our surroundings. Literature gives us a mirror in which to examine our collective reflection as a people. It does not gloss over the pimples and blemishes of humanity, but exposes them quite openly. No concealer, no cover-up, only the truth. Literature is the reflecting pool into which every person that ever existed can look and see both his own face and the faces of all his fellow people. It enables each human to not only find the humanity within his own heart but also to connect him to the generations of other people who have been doing so since the beginning of time."

—Rebekah Schulz

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Humanities LibreTexts

Why Write About Literature?

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  • Tanya Long Bennett
  • University of North Georgia via GALILEO Open Learning Materials

The odds are high that even though you are using this textbook for a first year English composition class, you are not an English major. Probably, you are required to take this course as part of your first year of college coursework to sharpen your writing, research, argument, and thinking skills so that in future classes, and later in your life, these proficiencies will serve you well in accomplishing important tasks. A study of rhetoric , the art of persuasion, can help you refine your ability to influence others, through both writing and speaking. With these goals in mind, it may seem odd that this first year composition book is filled with poetry, short stories, and plays, and even includes discussion of literary devices, like rhyme and rhythm, metaphor, and point of view! Yet, many English instructors do, indeed, choose to teach at least one semester of first year composition in the context of literary studies.

Why do they do this? Do they enjoy watching you squirm as you struggle to find the meaning in a line of Shakespeare’s poetry? Probably not. There are a couple of other important reasons that are much more pivotal to the content choice of your instructor—let’s call him Dr. Lopez—than his desire to bedevil you.

Most likely, Dr. Lopez feels that literature is the best context for your writing this semester because

  • He is better able to evaluate the effectiveness of your compositions if they are written on a topic with which he has some expertise. If you wrote a paper arguing for the superiority of one cancer treatment over another, he would certainly be able to test the validity of your logic and the clarity of your presentation. However, he might not feel comfortable judging whether current cancer research supports your stance. After following your research process all semester, he might become familiar with the sources you employed in your paper, but he would still lack knowledge of the general body of research on this subject. On the other hand, if you write your essay on how, in the poem “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night,” Dylan Thomas illustrates his speaker’s fear of his own death, Dr. Lopez is on much firmer ground. Since he is an expert on twentieth century British literature, and happens to have earned a master’s degree in twentieth century world literature, not only can he see the gaps in your argument, but he can also guide you toward sources that could help fill in those gaps. The resulting student papers written as a product of Dr. Lopez’s literature-focused class will likely be more valid than if he had chosen a topic less familiar to him.
  • Further, he believes that no matter what content a professor uses for this course, students should be improving their understanding of how language makes meaning. What better context for pursuing this goal than a discipline in which words are the subject? In writing your paper on Thomas’s poem, you will not only be practicing your skills in research, argument, organization, grammar, and documentation, but you will also be learning, from Thomas himself (among other authors), how words can be used rhetorically to persuade one’s reader toward a particular perspective.
  • Literature is a fruitful context in which to practice supporting an argument with textual evidence. Periodically, in one of my upper level English literature classes, I encounter a pre-law student who is required to take my class as part of her pre-law curriculum. If this policy at first seems odd, closer examination reveals its logic. In a court of law, attorneys spend much of their time referring to the language of particular laws and drawing the jury’s attention to specific pieces of evidence—often from reports, letters, interview transcripts, and previous cases. The first time I served on a jury, I was fascinated to see how much the trial’s structure—with the lawyers’ opening remarks, their back-and-forth examination of evidence and witnesses, and their closing remarks—resembled that of an argumentative essay. I was gratified to witness their constant references to written texts as evidence supporting their positions, either as prosecutor or defender.
  • In spite of all the poems, stories, and dramas on Dr. Lopez’s syllabus, make no mistake—his purpose is to help you improve your writing. In particular, such a course focuses on the rhetorical skills that will aid you in making successful arguments based on convincing and well-presented evidence. Of course, here, the term argument does not necessarily mean heated debate, but rather refers to the case a writer makes in defending a specific perspective. If most readers have assumed that “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” is a simple expression of the speaker’s sorrow about his father’s impending death, your essay might convince those readers that a better understanding of the poem comes with recognition of the speaker’s anxiety about death in general, which includes the speaker’s fear of his own demise. As you practice constructing a strong case for your interpretation of a literary work, you will be building skills that help produce effective writing in any context.

I hope that in the process of reading closely and critically, gathering evidence, working through various paths of thought, researching secondary sources, organizing ideas into logical arguments, and revising your writing for the greatest impact, you will also enjoy the literature you read in this class. When students write about something that truly interests them, the product is almost always better than if a writer has simply “jumped through the hoops.” Look for works in this volume that explore issues and themes you care about. This should help make the semester an engaging and enjoyable one, for both you and Dr. Lopez!

The Classroom | Empowering Students in Their College Journey

What Are the Benefits of English Literature?

Satire in English Literature

Satire in English Literature

Studying the literature of the English language can enrich our lives in ways we never imagined. Beyond the simple entertainment of a good story, readers stand to gain compassion for a wide range of people across cultures and time periods. In addition, sustained immersion in the literary arts as a whole results in a richer vocabulary and a certain ease and confidence when the reader approaches the practice of composition.

Historical Perspective

Care to guess what keeps the work of William Shakespeare in perennial production? The plays written by the world's most famous playwright grapple with the timeless themes of betrayal, hunger for political power and the complicated dance of romantic love. In this rapidly evolving high-tech world, there is something deeply comforting about the fact that after 500 years, some things seem fixed and steady. In Shakespeare's own words, "What's past is prologue."

Human Diversity

What a sad state of affairs it would be if one relied exclusively on the local broadcast news and "reality" TV to paint a picture of human civilization. Popular culture tends to celebrate three things: youth, beauty and the grotesque. Simply put, people need an antidote to the sensational to stay sane. Literature provides that by showcasing characters with seemingly rarefied traits such as modesty and humility. For example, Charles Dickens' Joe Gargery proves that a simple blacksmith can be a hero in "Great Expectations."

Cultural Understanding

For nonnative English speakers, studying literature — as with the study of English art, philosophy and economics — gives the amateur anthropologist a window to the soul of English culture and customs. Indeed, the uptight social conventions of Oscar Wilde's "An Ideal Husband" speaks volumes when the character of Mrs. Chevely says, "Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people whom we personally dislike." The comedic irreverence of modern British television shows (such as the iconic "Monty Python") makes a lot more sense when one is aware of the social oppression that served as its breeding ground.

Improved Writing

In his 1992 film "Husbands and Wives," Woody Allen's character Gabe, a college professor, famously says of his craft, "You can't teach writing. You expose students to good work and hope it inspires them." There is some truth here. In fact, many would argue quite heartily that there is no better teacher for those wishing to write well in English than the body of work known as the English literary canon. Reading great literature improves one's skills as a writer.

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  • "What's past is prologue."
  • "Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people whom we personally dislike."
  • Reading to be a better writer
  • You can't teach writing. You expose students...
  • Joe Gargery

Stacy Smith is a writer based in Austin, Texas. She hold a bachelor's degree in English and a master's degree in theater. She has post-graduate training in curriculum and instruction.

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10 Life-Changing Benefits of Studying Literature

Topmost among the numerous benefits of studying Literature is that it helps in the development of analytical skills that can be applied in other areas of academic study and career development. Other important advantages of studying Literature are the building of multi-tasking skills, development of a tolerant attitude and preparation for personally fulfilling jobs in areas you may consider unrelated to Literature.

There are many people out there who have very little regard for the study of Literature. Honestly, there is nothing wrong with that.

The reason is that there are equally a lot of people who would have nothing to do with other subjects such as Mathematics and Music! But that doesn’t make any of these subjects worthless.

Remember that most famous personalities that we admire and worship today had their lives influenced and directed by the study of the subjects they loved most which others might have regarded as being useless. And if you asked some of them, they would tell you one such subject is Literature.

So whatever subject your natural abilities would allow you to love and study, go for them. It can be Literature, Mathematics, Business or Computer Science. Because they all come together to make our lives better.

In this post, I will share with you the amazing benefits of studying Literature as a student. I will tell you what I think studying Literature has done for me personally and what it can do for you.

Then also, I will share with you what others are saying about the importance of studying Literature.

So if you want to know whether studying Literature as a student has any advantages to offer continue reading.

6 Reasons Why Students Hate Literature

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1. It makes you a more versatile learner.

Being able to adapt to a fast-changing job environment is among the benefits of studying Literature. What studying Literature does to the learner is that it develops an ability to learn other subjects with relative ease.

You will only appreciate the full value of this when, at a point in your life, you need to branch off into other careers or switch careers altogether.

I have personally experienced this first-hand.

Today, I can say that studying Literature prepared me to find learning other subjects such as information technology, basic business management, business communication, digital marketing, publishing and persuasive writing quite easy.

Here are some learnt skills that made this possible.

Persistence skills

Exploratory skills

Investigative skills

Analytical skills

Effective reading skills

Effective writing skills

2. It sharpens multi-tasking skills.

Tell me, who wouldn’t want to develop further their ability to tackle more than one work-related task at a time?

Yes, there are those who hold the view that multi-tasking should not be encouraged. But that doesn’t take away the fact that, in our modern world, you simply can’t help but multi-task sometimes.

The skills we learn from studying multiple texts covering different genres make this possible.

Again, learning to compare and contrast characters, themes or ideas and situations comes in handy.

This is even when we somehow find ourselves working in other industries as varied as banking, event management, the armed forces and social media marketing

3. You can become more open-minded.

In the process of studying Literature, we come to learn that there are no absolutes in life. The characters we study are individuals with varying degrees of personal strengths and weaknesses.

The same applies to situations in their lives. We hardly jump to rigid conclusions about characters saying one is completely bad and the other is a complete saint. Because this is not reality.

Even a caricature , is not a completely flat character.

Surely, studying Literature has a role to play in reducing the high levels of bigotry in our world today.

Further, this skill of looking at people, situations, ideas and so on with an objective mind is of great value in many ‘unrelated’ areas of life. Here are a few.

Business management

Scientific research

Coding and Programming

Detective work

Military strategy

Film Production



And the list goes on and on.

4. It makes you more tolerant.

Thanks to my study of so many different shades of characters in novels, plays and poetry, I have learnt to look at people whose thoughts, opinions and idiosyncracies are different from mine with a less critical and more tolerant attitude.

I have come to respect other people’s opinions. And I have always refused to impose my views, no matter how strongly I believe in them, on others who hold a different opinion.

In short, studying Literature instils in the learner a sympathetic rather than a judgmental attitude to other people.

Clearly, it is possible to become a more peace-loving human being, ready to help in the promotion of a more tolerant society after studying a couple of topics in Literature.

5. Preparation for Key Jobs

Studying Literature as a student has the potential to better prepare you for any one of the below careers.

This is not to say that one needs to study Literature in order to qualify for any particular job.

The point here is that the prospect of becoming a successful professional gets brighter when you are armed with the insights and skills acquired from the study of Literature.


Information Technology

Digital Technology

Human Resource Manager

Public Relations

Armed Forces

Public Speaking

50+ General Arts Job Opportunities for Students

60+ English Literature Degree Jobs

6. It facilitates the study of other subjects.

As a student, you will find that the rigorous study of prescribed Literature texts has developed in you the ability to study less demanding subjects with greater ease.

In other words, if you can read and study all those novels, plays and poems, you will have little trouble studying another subject which requires you to read just one or two textbooks, for example.

Other Benefits of Studying Literature

Are the above advantages of studying Literature enough to convince you of the importance of the study of Literature in schools?

If not, then I will urge you to also consider what others with some knowledge of the subject have to say.

Findcourses.co. uk

Studying Literature will allow you to better understand the world we live in.


As you study Literature, you will also be building your vocabulary.

Alpha Omega Publications (aop.com)

Literature will teach you about yourself. It, therefore, enhances self-awareness.

The Asian School.net

You will learn to understand and appreciate other cultures better.

Are you a student who is faced with the decision to choose between Literature and another subject? Maybe you are a parent whose child has expressed interest in the subject but you have serious doubts.

It might also be that you once studied Literature but can’t see how to make your experience relevant to your life.

Well, I hope that the benefits of studying Literature I have outlined above will make a positive contribution to whatever direction you will choose for yourself or your loved one.


benefit of literature to you as a student essay


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benefit of literature to you as a student essay

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  • Importance of Literature: Essay

Literature is the foundation of life . It places an emphasis on many topics from human tragedies to tales of the ever-popular search for love. While it is physically written in words, these words come alive in the imagination of the mind, and its ability to comprehend the complexity or simplicity of the text.

Literature enables people to see through the lenses of others, and sometimes even inanimate objects; therefore, it becomes a looking glass into the world as others view it. It is a journey that is inscribed in pages and powered by the imagination of the reader.

Ultimately, literature has provided a gateway to teach the reader about life experiences from even the saddest stories to the most joyful ones that will touch their hearts.

From a very young age, many are exposed to literature in the most stripped-down form: picture books and simple texts that are mainly for the sole purpose of teaching the alphabet etc. Although these are not nearly as complex as an 800-page sci-fi novel, it is the first step that many take towards the literary world.

Progressively, as people grow older, they explore other genres of books, ones that propel them towards curiosity of the subject, and the overall book.

Reading and being given the keys to the literature world prepares individuals from an early age to discover the true importance of literature: being able to comprehend and understand situations from many perspectives.

Physically speaking, it is impossible to be someone else. It is impossible to switch bodies with another human being, and it is impossible to completely understand the complexity of their world. Literature, as an alternative, is the closest thing the world has to being able to understand another person whole-heartedly.

For stance, a novel about a treacherous war, written from the perspective of a soldier, allows the reader to envision their memories, their pain, and their emotions without actually being that person. Consequently, literature can act as a time machine, enabling individuals to go into a specific time period of the story, into the mind and soul of the protagonist.

With the ability to see the world with a pair of fresh eyes, it triggers the reader to reflect upon their own lives. Reading material that is relatable to the reader may teach them morals and encourage them to practice good judgment.

This can be proven through public school systems, where the books that are emphasized the most tend to have a moral-teaching purpose behind the story.

An example would be William Shakespeare’s stories, where each one is meant to be reflective of human nature – both the good and bad.

Consequently, this can promote better judgment of situations , so the reader does not find themselves in the same circumstances as perhaps those in the fiction world. Henceforth, literature is proven to not only be reflective of life, but it can also be used as a guide for the reader to follow and practice good judgment.

The world today is ever-changing. Never before has life been so chaotic and challenging for all. Life before literature was practical and predictable, but in the present-day, literature has expanded into countless libraries and into the minds of many as the gateway for comprehension and curiosity of the human mind and the world around them.

Literature is of great importance and is studied upon as it provides the ability to connect human relationships and define what is right and what is wrong. Therefore, words are alive more than ever before.

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Author:  William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)

Tutor and Freelance Writer. Science Teacher and Lover of Essays. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0


Indeed literature is the foundation of life, people should know and appreciate these kind of things

its very useful info thanks

very helpful…..tnx

Hi, thanks!

First year student who wants to know about literature and how I can develop interest in reading novels.

Fantastic piece!

wonderful work

Literature is anything that is artistically presented through writtings or orally.

you may have tangible wealth untold, caskets of jewels and coffers of gold, richer than i you could never be, i know someone who told stories to me.

there’s a great saying that “the universe isn’t made up of at atoms, its made of stories” i hope none will argue this point, because this is the truest thing i have ever heard and its beautiful…….

I have learnt alot thanks to the topic literature.Literature is everything.It answers the questions why?,how? and what?.To me its my best and I will always treasure and embress literature to death.

I agree with the writer when says that Literature is the foundation of life. For me, reading is the most wonderful experience in life. It allows me to travel to other places and other times. I think that also has learnt me to emphathize with others, and see the world with other´s eyes and from their perspectives. I really like to read.

This is the first time i am presenting on a literature and i am surprised by the amount of people who are interested on the same subject. I regret my absence because i have missed much marvelous thing in that field.In fact literature is what is needed by the whole world,it brings the people of different culture together and by doing so it breaks the imposed barriers that divided people.My address now goes to the people of nowadays who prefer other source of entertainment like TV,i am not saying that TV is bad but reading is better of.COME BACK TO IT THEN.

literature is a mirror; a true reflection of our nature. it helps us see ourselves in a third persons point of view of first persons point of view. it instills virtues and condones vices. literature forms a great portion of fun and entertainment through plays, comedies and novels. it also educates individuals on life’s basic but delicate and sacred issues like love and death. it informs us of the many happenings and events that we would never have otherwise known about. literature also forms a source of livelihood to thousands of people, starting from writers,characters in plays, editors, printers,distributors and business people who deal with printed materials. literature is us and without it, we are void.

I believe that life without Literature would be unacceptable , with it i respect myself and loved human life . Next week i am going to make presentation about Literature, so i benefited from this essay.

Thanks a lot

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Why Students Should Write in All Subjects

Writing improves learning by consolidating information in long-term memory, researchers explain. Plus, five engaging writing activities to use in all subjects.

An illustration of the inside of a mind while writing

For Kyle Pahigian, a 10th-grade math teacher at University Park Campus School in Massachusetts, a lesson on congruent triangles doesn’t start with calculators and protractors. Instead, she hands her students a treasure map and asks them to write detailed directions—using landmarks as a guide—to the buried treasure.

“I won’t tell the kids right away, ‘Today we’re going to learn about triangle congruence theorems,’” said Pahigian. “I want them to instead view it as them experimenting with something and doing something that they feel like they’re really good at.” Students often feel intimidated by math, and transforming the activity into a writing exercise eases some of the anxiety of introducing difficult concepts, she said.

In Pahigian’s math class, writing is regularly used as a learning strategy, one that gives her a window into her students’ thinking. “I like to do low-stakes writing when we’re coming up with definitions,” said Pahigian. Instead of telling her students what a polygon is, for example, she’ll show them a set of polygons and a set of non-polygons, and ask them, “What do you notice? What differences do you see?” Students spend a few minutes writing down their answers, and then join groups to compare responses.

“It’s really interesting and fun for me to read what they’ve written, because I can see all the questions. I can see the process,” said Pahigian.

A recent study sheds light on why writing is such a beneficial activity—not just in subjects typically associated with writing, like history and English, but across all subjects. Professor Steve Graham and his colleagues at Arizona State University’s Teachers College analyzed 56 studies looking at the benefits of writing in science, social studies, and math and found that writing “reliably enhanced learning” across all grade levels. While teachers commonly ask students to write about a topic in order to assess how well they understand the material, the process of writing also improves a student’s ability to recall information, make connections between different concepts, and synthesize information in new ways. In effect, writing isn’t just a tool to assess learning, it also promotes it.

Strengthening Memories

Why is writing effective? “Writing about content material facilitates learning by consolidating information in long-term memory,” explain Graham and his colleagues, describing a process known as the retrieval effect . As previous research has shown , information is quickly forgotten if it’s not reinforced, and writing helps to strengthen a student’s memories of the material they’re learning.

It’s the same cognitive mechanism that explains why practice tests are effective : In a 2014 study, students who took low-stakes practice tests in science and history classes scored 16 percentage points higher on their final exams than students who simply studied the material. “Practicing retrieval of recently studied information enhances the likelihood of the learner retrieving that information in the future,” the researchers of the 2014 study said.

Writing about a topic also encourages students to process information at a deeper level. Answering multiple-choice or short-answer questions may help with factual recall, but putting thoughts on paper encourages students to evaluate different ideas, weighing the importance of each one and considering the order they should be presented in, Graham and his colleagues write. By doing so, students may make new connections between ideas, ones they may not have made when initially learning the information.

A Metacognitive Tool

Students often believe that they understand a topic, but if they’re asked to write it down—and explain it—gaps in their understanding may be revealed. One of the most effective writing strategies that Graham and his colleagues found was metacognitive prompting, in which students are asked not only to recall information but also to apply what they’ve learned to different contexts by thinking about multiple sides of a position or making predictions based on what they currently know. For example, instead of simply reading about ecosystems in a textbook, students can write about their own impact by examining how much trash their household produces or the environmental impact of producing the food they eat.

5 Writing Strategies to Use in Any Subject

Here are a variety of ideas teachers have shared with Edutopia in recent years on incorporating writing into a variety of subjects.

“I wonder” journals: At Crellin Elementary School in Oakland, Maryland, teachers encouraged students to ask “I wonder” questions to push their learning beyond the classroom. After visiting a local barn and garden, for example, Dave Miller realized his fifth-grade students had more questions about animals and plants than he had time to answer, so he had them write down anything they were confused or curious about, which helped him plan future lessons and experiments.

“If they don’t wonder, ‘How would we ever survive on the moon?’ then that’s never going to be explored,” said Dana McCauley, Crellin’s principal. “But that doesn’t mean they should stop wondering, because wonderings lead to thinking outside the box, which makes them critical thinkers. As they try to figure it out, and reflect on what they’re doing, that’s where it all ties together for them. That’s where all that learning occurs—where all the connections start being made.”

Travel journals: Every student at Normal Park Museum Magnet, a K–8 school in Chattanooga, Tennessee, created a travel journal to chart their learning. These journals included not only charts, drawings, and graphic organizers, but also writing and reflection pieces that capture students’ learning about a topic.

When fifth-grade teacher Denver Huffstutler began a unit on earth science, he asked his students to imagine they were explorers looking for a new world that could sustain life. In their travel journal, they kept track of everything they were learning, from the impact of man-made disasters to their designs and calculations for a manned rocket that could reach distant planets.

Low-stakes writing: Writing can be daunting, so teachers at University Park Campus School used daily low-stakes writing activities to foster student voice, self-confidence, and critical thinking skills—a school-wide strategy used in every subject.

“The most important thing about it for me is that it’s not censored, and it’s not too highly structured,” said seventh-grade science teacher James Kobialka. “It’s about them getting their own ideas down, and then being able to interact with those ideas, change them, and revise them if they’re not correct.”

For example, when Kobialka’s students were learning about the conservation of mass, he didn’t start by defining it—he showed them a picture and asked, “What do you notice about the atoms on both sides? How can you explain that?” Students wrote down their observations, and the entire class came up with a definition. “From there,” he said, “once that consensus is formed, I’ll ask somebody to write it on the board, and we’ll talk about the key concepts.”

Student-created magazines: In Alessandra King’s algebra class, students created a magazine with dozens of articles about real world applications of math. For each article, they selected a primary source—an article from Scientific American , for example—read it closely, and then wrote a summary. Students wrote about a range of topics, from gerrymandering to fractals in Jackson Pollock’s paintings to invisibility cloaks.

“Effective writing clarifies and organizes a student’s thoughts, and the slow pace of writing is conducive to student learning because it allows them to reason carefully to make sure they’re correct before they state their thoughts,” King wrote. “Studies have shown that writing is valuable specifically for the math classroom—for example, it seems that a student’s ability to explain concepts in writing is related to the ability to comprehend and apply them.”

Creative writing: Former teachers Ed Kang and Amy Schwartzbach-Kang incorporated storytelling and creative writing into their after-school program’s science lessons. For example, they asked students to imagine a creature that could survive in a local habitat —the Chicago River, in their case. What color would it be? What features would help it to survive and defend itself? How would it hunt its prey? Students then wrote a story about their creature that combined science concepts with creative storytelling.

“There’s brain science to support using stories to help kids engage with content and create personal meaning,” explained Kang, who has a Ph.D. in neuroscience. “Listening to facts mainly stimulates the two language-processing areas of the brain. However, when we listen to a story, additional parts of the brain are also activated—regions involved with our senses and motor movements help listeners actually ‘feel’ the descriptions.”

What Benefits Might Reflective Writing Have for My Students?

Getting Started

Why include writing in my courses?

What is writing to learn?

WTL Activities

What is writing to engage?

What is writing in the disciplines?

WID Assignments

Useful Knowledge

What should I know about rhetorical situations?

Do I have to be an expert in grammar to assign writing?

What should I know about genre and design?

What should I know about second-language writing?

What teaching resources are available?

What should I know about WAC and graduate education?

Assigning Writing

What makes a good writing assignment?

How can I avoid getting lousy student writing?

What benefits might reflective writing have for my students?

Using Peer Review

Why consider collaborative writing assignments?

Do writing and peer review take up too much class time?

How can I get the most out of peer review?

Responding to Writing

How can I handle responding to student writing?

Sample Grading Sheets

How can writing centers support writing in my courses?

What writing resources are available for my students?

Using Technology

How can computer technologies support writing in my classes?

Designing and Assessing WAC Programs

What is a WAC program?

What designs are typical for WAC programs?

How can WAC programs be assessed?

More on WAC

Where can I learn more about WAC?

In The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action , Donald Schön notes that

When we go about the spontaneous, intuitive performance of the actions of everyday life, we show ourselves to be knowledgeable in a special way. Often we cannot say what it is that we know. When we try to describe it we find ourselves at a loss, or we produce descriptions that are obviously inappropriate. Our knowing is ordinarily tacit, implicit in our patterns of action and in our feel for the stuff with which we are dealing. (49)

He then explains one of the major functions of reflection for the practitioner:

Through reflection, [the practitioner] can surface and criticize the tacit understandings that have grown up around the repetitive experiences of a specialized practice, and can make new sense of the situations of uncertainty or uniqueness which he may allow himself to experience. (61)

As writers, students have less tacit understanding of how to construct texts generally and much less tacit understanding of how to construct texts in their new content disciplines. Thus, the first major contribution of reflective writing for students as writers is that such work allows student writers to examine their tacit understandings to see where and how those might be elaborated for the complex or uncertain rhetorical contexts they write within.

In addition to this advantage of reflection, many teachers of writing have found that students who reflect about their writing processes and decisions are able and careful critics of their own work. They often see exactly those shortcomings that a target reader will identify. Students can, then, anticipate the responses that teachers give to the text, often in productive ways if the reflective writing occurs before final submission of a writing assignment.

Teachers who assign reflective writing, however, are not solely concerned with having students consider their writing processes and rhetorical decisions. Many teachers across the curriculum strongly believe in the value of reflecting on one's knowledge and practices, particularly in clinical, professional, and classroom settings.

To sum up responses to the question, then, reflective writing benefits students because it

  • Helps students identify their tacit knowledge as well as gaps in that knowledge
  • Brings to the surface rhetorical and writing process decisions that can focus subsequent revision or learning
  • Encourages growth as a working professional

Beyond the Basics

Reflective writing is used across disciplines, but it most widely accepted as a pre-professional practice in nursing and teacher education. (See Mortari 2012, for a partial review of the literature in nursing.) The sheer number of recent titles on reflection in the literature of these disciplines puts an exhaustive review (or even listing) beyond the scope of this text, but the table below captures some of recent titles across the curriculum. Please search key disciplinary journals to find those sources most pertinent to the courses you teach.

Often, reflective writing is assigned or captured in journals (kept in hardcopy or online). One common complaint from students is that so many of their teachers assign reflective journals that students feel overburdened with this kind of writing. Teachers, on the other hand, sometimes complain that students do not engage in authentic reflection and rely instead on simple description of activities or events. To address these typical problems, Dyment et al. (2010) consider the factors that limit the effectiveness of reflective journals for students. They provide useful suggestions for setting clear expectations by specifying the purpose of the journal in the specific course as well as connecting journal goals to a larger educational program or professional practice. Dyment et al. also explore the importance of noting the audience for the journal and its "mechanics"—how much it counts in a course grade, how often students should write and for how long, what specific requirements the teacher has for entries, and so on. They continue their helpful logistical advice with notes about how to help students to read and write journal entries and how and when to respond and grade journals. (See also Mills, 2008.)

Hubbs & Brand (2010) add to this basic information about setting up a reflective journal by defining two dimensions common to journal activities -concrete/abstract and cognitive/affective spectra. They contend that having students analyze their own journaling helps them to connect and critique classroom learning and practical experience.

Moving beyond the journal as the vehicle for reflection, Rusche & Jason (2011) describe a detailed sequence of reflective writing tasks that culminate in a final reflective essay. Although their sequence derives from sociology, the activities might easily translate to other disciplines. Similarly, Mair (2012) describes an online resource designed to facilitate reflective writing, develop students' metacognitive awareness and, ultimately, enhance learning.

Rai (2012) turns to questions related to assessing reflective writing, focusing specifically on the emotional elements often included in reflection on practice in disciplines such as social work, nursing, and teaching. Like Rai, Tummons (2011) questions the validity of assessing reflective writing. Unlike Rai, Tummons' position is more critical of our current assessment practices. He argues that our typical assessment practices mask complexities and contradictions in how students write reflective assignments and how we read them. He calls for new assessment based on clearer theoretical underpinnings, particularly from social theories of language and literacy. Although not focused exclusively on assessment of reflective writing, Ross (2011) also takes up theoretical viewpoints on the affective dimension of reflective writing and how teachers might consider issues of identity, authenticity, ownership, privacy and performativity in compulsory reflective writing.

Attard, K. (2012). The role of narrative writing in improving professional practice. Educational Action Research, 20 (1), 161-175.

Badley, G. (2009). A reflective essaying model for higher education. Education & Training, 51 (4), 248-258.

Bairral, M.A., & dos Santos, R.T. (2012). E-Portfolio improving learning in mathematics pre-service teacher. Digital Education Review, 21 : 1-12.

Baker, F., & Krout, R. (2012). Turning experience into learning: Educational contributions of collaborative peer songwriting during music therapy training. International Journal of Music Education, 30 (2), 133-147.

Balgopal, M.M., & Montplaisir, L.M. (2011). Meaning making: What reflective essays reveal about biology students' conceptions about natural selection. Instructional Science, 39 (2), 137-169.

Barney, K., & Mackinlay, E. (2010). Creating rainbows from words and transforming understandings: Enhancing student learning through reflective writing in an aboriginal music course. Teaching in Higher Education, 15 (2), 161-173.

Bisman, J. (2011). Engaged pedagogy: A study of the use of reflective journals in accounting education. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 36 (3), 315-330.

Brewer, S.M., & Jozefowicz, J.J. (2006). Making economic principles personal: Student journals and reflection papers. Journal of Economic Education, 37 (2), 202-216.

Brown, L., & Coles, A. (2012). Developing "deliberate analysis" for learning mathematics and for mathematics teacher education: How the enactive approach to cognition frames reflection. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 80 (1), 15.

Browning, B.W. (2011). Gladwell and group communication: Using "The Tipping Point" as a supplemental text. Communication Teacher 25 (2), 90-93.

Chu, S.K.W., Chan, C.K.K., & Tiwari, A.F.Y. (2012). Using blogs to support learning during internship. Computers & Education, 58 (3), 989-1000.

Ciminelli, M.R. (2011). A model for developing pre-service teacher reflection: An interactive intervention strategy. AILACTE Journal, 8 : 1-14.

Cisero, C.A. (2006). Does reflective journal writing improve course performance? College Teaching, 54 (2), 231-236.

Clark, K.M. (2010). Applied and transformed understanding in introductory psychology: Analysis of a final essay assignment. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 10 (3), 41-57.

Dianovsky, M.T., & Wink, D.J. (2012). Student learning through journal writing in a general education chemistry course for pre-elementary education majors. Science Education, 96 (3), 543-565.

Dyment, J.E., & O'Connell, T.S. (2010). The quality of reflection in student journals: A review of limiting and enabling factors. Innovative Higher Education, 35 (4), 233-244.

Fadde, P.J., Aud, S., & Gilbert, S. (2009). Incorporating a video-editing activity in a reflective teaching course for preservice teachers. Action in Teaching Education, 31 (1), 75-86.

Gulwadi, G.B. (2009). Using reflective journals in a sustainable design studio. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 10 (1), 43-53.

Hagevik, R., Aydeniz, M., & Rowell, C.G. (2012). Using action research in middle level teacher education to evaluate and deepen reflective practice. Teaching and Teacher Education, 28 (5), 675-684.

Harland, D.J., & Wondra, J.D. (2011). Preservice teachers' reflection on clinical experiences: A comparison of blog and final paper assignments. Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, 27 (4), 128-133.

Hill, A.E., Davidson, B.J., & Theodoros, D.G. (2012). Reflections on clinical learning in novice speech-language therapy students. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 47 (4), 413-426.

Ho, S., & Lee, V.M.W. (2012). Toward integration of reading and service learning through an interdisciplinary program. Asia Pacific Education Review, 13 (2), 251-262.

Holtzman, M. (2005). Teaching sociological theory through active learning: The irrigation exercise. Teaching Sociology, 33 (2), 206-212.

Hubbs, D., & Brand, C.F. (2010). Learning from the inside out: A method for analyzing reflective journals in the college classroom. Journal of Experiential Education, 33 (1), 56-71.

Hughes, J.L. (2008). Encouraging students to apply human sexuality material to themselves by using integration papers. American Journal of Sexuality Education, 3 (3), 247-253.

Jehangir, R. (2010). Stories as knowledge: Bringing the lived experience of first-generation college students into the academy. Urban Education, 45 (4), 533-553.

Kajder, S., & Parkes, K. (2012). Examining preservice teachers' reflective practice within and across multimodal writing environments. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 20 (3), 229-249.

Kalman, C.S. (2011). Enhancing students' conceptual understanding by engaging science text with reflective writing as a hermeneutical circle. Science & Education, 20 (2), 159-172.

Kalman, C.S., & Rohar, S. (2010). Toolbox of activities to support students in a physics gateway course. Physical Review Special Topics - Physics Education Research, 6 (2), 2011-2015.

Knapp, N.F. (2012). Reflective journals: Making constructive use of the "apprenticeship of observation" in preservice teacher education. Teaching Education, 23 (3), 323-340.

Lai, G., & Calandra, B. (2010). Examining the effects of computer-based scaffolds on novice teachers' reflective journal writing. Educational Technology Research and Development, 58 (4), 421-437.

Lee, O. (2010). Facilitating preservice teachers' reflection through interactive online journal writing. Physical Educator, 67 (3), 128-139.

Leijen, A., Valtna, K., Leijen, D.A.J., & Pedaste, M. (2012). How to determine the quality of students' reflections? Studies in Higher Education, 37 (2), 203-217.

Lew, D.N.M., & Schmidt, H.G. (2011). Writing to learn: Can reflection journals be used to promote self-reflection and learning? Higher Education Research and Development, 30 (4), 519-532.

Lie, D., Shapiro, J., Cohn, F., & Najm, W. (2010). Reflective practice enriches clerkship students' cross-cultural experiences. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 25 (2), S119-S125.

Mair, C. (2012). Using technology for enhancing reflective writing, metacognition and learning. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 36 (2), 147-167.

Mayne, L. (2012). Reflective writing as a tool for assessing teamwork in bioscience: Insights into student performance and understanding of teamwork. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education, 40 (4), 234-240.

McDonald, J., & Dominguez, L. (2009). Reflective writing: Developing patterns for thinking about learning in science. Science Teacher, 76 (3), 46-49.

McGuinness, M. (2009). Putting themselves in the picture: Using reflective diaries in the teaching of feminist geography. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 33 (3), 339-349.

McGuire, L., Lay, K., & Peters, J. (2009). Pedagogy of reflective writing in professional education. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 9 (1), 93-107.

Mills, R. (2008). "It's just a nuisance": Improving college student reflective journal writing. College Student Journal, 42 (2), 684-690.

Moore, F.M. (2008). Agency, identity, and social justice education: Preservice teachers' thoughts on becoming agents of change in urban elementary science classrooms. Research in Science Education, 38 (5), 599-610.

Mortari, L. (2012). Learning thoughtful reflection in teacher education. Teachers and Teaching, 18 (5), 525-545.

Mott, J. (2008). Passing our lives through the fire of thought: The personal essay in the political theory classroom. PS: Political Science & Politics, 41 (1), 207-211.

Nesoff, I. (2004). Student journals: A tool for encouraging self-reflection and critical thought. The Journal of Baccalaureate Social Work, 10 (1), 46-60.

O'Connell, T., & Dyment, J. (2011). Health and physical education pre-service teacher perceptions of journals as a reflective tool in experience-based learning. European Physical Education Review, 17 (2), 135-151.

Park, J.J., & Millora, M.L. (2012). The relevance of reflection: An empirical examination of the role of reflection in ethic of caring, leadership, and psychological well-being. Journal of College Student Development, 53 (2), 221-242.

Parker, D.C. (2010). Writing and becoming [a teacher]: Teacher candidates' literacy narratives over four years. Teaching and Teacher Education: An International Journal of Research and Studies, 26 (6), 1249-1260.

Parry, D., Walsh, C., Larsen, C., & Hogan, J. (2012). Reflective practice: A place in enhancing learning in the undergraduate bioscience teaching laboratory? Bioscience Education, 19 : 10.

Ponte, L.M. (2006). The case of the unhappy sports fan: Embracing student-centered learning and promoting upper-level cognitive skills through an online dispute resolution simulation. Journal of Legal Studies Education, 23 (2), 169-194.

Prescott, L. (2012). Life writing and life-learning: An analysis of creative writing students' work. Studies in Continuing Education, 34 (2), 145-157.

Rai, L. (2012). Responding to emotion in practice-based writing. Higher Education: The International Journal of Higher Education and Educational Planning, 64 (2), 267-284.

Ross, J. (2011). Traces of self: Online reflective practices and performances in higher education. Teaching in Higher Education, 16 (1), 113-126.

Rusche, S.N., & Jason, K. (2011). "You have to absorb yourself in it": Using inquiry and reflection to promote student learning and self-knowledge. Teaching Sociology, 39 (4), 338-353.

Ryan, M., & Brough, D. (2012). Reflections around artefacts: Using a deliberative approach to teaching reflective practices in fashion studies. Journal of Learning Design, 5 (1), 1-11.

Schwartz, R.S., Lederman, N.G., & Crawford, B.A. (2004). Developing view of nature of science in an authentic context: An explicit approach to bridging the gap between nature of science and scientific inquiry. Science Education, 88 (4), 610-645.

Schön, D. (1983). The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action . New York: Basic Books.

Shepherd, R. (2010). If these walls could talk: Reflective practice in addiction studies among undergraduates in New Zealand. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 8 (4), 583-594.

Simmons, S.R. (2008). "Knowing our place and time": Memoir as pedagogy. Journal of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Education. 37 : 1-7.

Smith-Battle, L. (2012). Learning to see the other through student-created dramas. Journal of Nursing Education, 51 (10), 591-594.

Starks, D., Nicholas, H., & Macdonald, S. (2012). Structured reflective communication as a meta-genre in teacher education: Creative uses of "critique" in a teacher education program. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 37 (3), 90-110.

Sung, T.Y., Chang, E.K., Yu, C.W., & Chang, H.T. (2009). Supporting teachers' reflection and learning through structured digital teaching portfolios. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 25 (4), 375-385.

Trepagnier, B. (2004). Teaching sociology through student portfolios. Teaching Sociology, 32 (2), 197-205.

Tummons, J. (2011). "It sort of feels uncomfortable": Problematising the assessment of reflective practice. Studies in Higher Education, 36 (4), 471-483.

Vega, G. (2010). The undergraduate case research study model. Journal of Management Education, 34 (4), 574-604.

Wald, H.S., Davis, S.W., Reis, S.P., Monroe, A.D., & Borkan, J.M. (2009). Reflecting on reflections: Enhancement of medical education curriculum with structured field notes and guided feedback. Academic Medicine, 84 (7), 830-837.

Walker, S.E. (2006). Journal writing as a teaching technique to promote reflection. Journal of Athletic Training, 41 (2), 216-221.

Walmsley, C., & Birkbeck, J. (2006). Personal narrative writing: A method of values reflection for BSW students. Journal of Teaching Social Work, 26 (1-2), 111-126.

Wear, D., Zarconi, J., Garden, R., & Jones. T. Reflection in/and writing: Pedagogy and practice in medical education. Academic Medicine, 87 (5), 603-609.

Wills, K.V., & Clerking, T.A. (2009). Incorporating reflective practice into team simulation projects for improved learning outcomes. Business Communication Quarterly, 72 (2), 221-227.

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Teaching Language Through Literature: 7 Important Techniques and the Major Benefits

Teaching literature in the target language provides an incredible look at the relationship between language and culture .

Not only does it reveal information about people, history, words and expressions, it also reveals deeper truths about human nature that transcend language barriers.

Plus, including literature in language teaching and learning can help your students’ reading and writing skills, but it can also improve their listening, speaking and critical thinking abilities as well.

Taking an interest in literature with your students will do wonders for their journey to fluency.

So here are seven tips to help you do just that, plus the history and benefits of teaching language through literature.

How to Teach Language Through Literature

1. choose an appropriate book, 2. pre-teach vocabulary for discussing literature, 3. activate students’ prior knowledge, 4. model your process of thinking about literature, 5. play an audio recording of the text, 6. provide discussion questions, 7. allow students to express their own ideas, literature in language teaching and learning, a brief history, the benefits.

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Finding the right book is everything!

Take into account your students’ ages, interests, levels and socioeconomic backgrounds. For example, chances are your older teens won’t find much to relate to in a picture book for young children. And if you have a class of students who love sports, they may not be interested in a Victorian romance. But a book about a famous athlete might just do the trick.

So, how exactly do you choose a good book for your class?

In the same way that you choose a good book for yourself— ask for recommendations!

Talk to colleagues and find out what books they’ve found successful in their classrooms. You could also reach out to parents and teachers in the target-language country and solicit their ideas about books that kids or adult learners enjoy.

Another convenient way to find book recommendations is through Goodreads  or Amazon . Both of these popular book recommendation platforms have the option of searching for books in the target language. Results can even be filtered to search specifically for children’s or young adult books if applicable.

Here are a few you might consider for popular languages:

  • Spanish: Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s “La Sombra del Viento”  (The Shadow of the Wind) offers a compelling mystery, with the added bonus of a window on life in 1945 Barcelona. Another great choice is Isabel Allende’s “La Casa de los Espiritus”  (The House of the Spirits) .
  • Chinese:  Younger students will find much to relate to in the portrayal of a group of friends coming of age in Shanghai in Guo Jingming’s “Tiny Times 1.0.” You might also consider Weijia Huang and Ao Qun’s  “Readings in Chinese Culture”   or Jiang Rong’s  “Wolf Totem.”

Give students a repertoire of words for discussing things like genre, symbolism, theme and setting. Once they feel confident about the use of these terms, they can discuss stories in a more meaningful way.

Ask students to write down all the things they know or have heard about the book, the author and/or the historical period.

After, go through these together and share any important info that students didn’t already know. This exercise will provide a relevant context for the book they’re about to read.

While reading the first chapter, do some thinking out loud about the story: “I wonder why the story began that way. I wonder what this character is going to do next.”

By modeling this process in simple language with vocabulary from the book, you can instill confidence in your students to think deeper and have more in-depth discussions about what they read.

You can often find famous books or poetry recorded in the voice of the author, or that of a famous actor.

You can play the recording while students read to help them follow along in the text. Hearing the text read aloud makes the task less arduous and helps with pronunciation.

You could also employ other innovative teaching strategies , such as coupling the text with video clips of the book or poem being performed by actual native speakers of the language.

Formulate   questions that help students get to a deeper understanding of the plot, the characters, the theme and the language employed in the story. The questions should require them to dig deep with examples from the text.

While these questions will be completed or discussed at the end of each chapter/section, feel free to provide them to students ahead of time and go over them together. This will help learners understand what to look for and notice as they read a foreign text.

Don’t just stick to routine question-and-answer activities to get your students to show understanding of the text. Mix it up with activities that spark their creativity. They can share their thoughts on the story or poem by drawing a picture or acting out a scene, for instance.

Like most trends, the use of literature has waxed and waned in language instruction over time.

In the early 1900s, the grammar-translation method reigned supreme. It involved lots of conjugation, rote vocabulary memorization and translation. Literature was simply a vehicle for students to practice their grammar and vocabulary, a place to view authentic examples of sentence structures, verb conjugations and memorized words.

In the mid-1900s, educators became more concerned with developing students’ abilities to communicate. The direct method and the audio-lingual method became more popular. In a classic example of “throwing the baby out with the bath water,” literature disappeared from the curriculum as teachers focused on conversing instead.

The 1960s and ’70s saw the advent of the communicative approach , the favored method in most language classrooms today. As such, we’re seeing a resurgence of literature in our language classrooms.

Three models of literature-based language teaching have been developed, each based on a different and compelling reason for the practice:

  • The Cultural Model: Advocates of this model believe that the value of literature lies in its unique distillation of culture. The language learners read fiction or poetry as part of their instruction about history, politics, social mores and traditions.
  • The Language Model: Because literature is built from language, it opens a path for students to construct their own understanding of words and phrases. Here, reading is of value for the same reason it’s valuable in a student’s native language—it gives them tools for more effective communication.
  • The Personal Growth Model: In this model, the focus is on engagement. Teachers use literature to help students understand themselves better and connect with the world around them in a deeper way by exploring universal themes.

To reap the full benefits of literature in the classroom, you can certainly combine all three models. Language, culture and personal growth are intrinsically connected, and it makes sense to teach them in conjunction with each other.

You can also use discussions, role plays and group projects to continue the lessons from the books and stories you read in class. Literature can spark meaningful communication while also nurturing students’ opinions about various events and behaviors.

Teaching language through literature provides your students with tons of specific opportunities to expand their knowledge of language and culture and experience personal growth. Here are a few:

As you can see, using literature in language teaching and learning doesn’t have to be boring!

You can transform it into one of the most memorable learning experiences you offer to your students, and instill in them a lifelong love of reading and language.

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benefit of literature to you as a student essay


What is academic writing and why is it important?

Dec 27, 2020 | Academic Writing , College Applications , Englist blog , TOEFL Prep | 0 comments

Academic writing has become an increasingly important part of education as parents and educators realize the value of critical thinking skills and preparing students for college. 

Still, many students, parents, and even other teachers don’t have a great grasp on this area of learning and why it is so critical.

As such, at Englist we find it is important to not only teach academic writing, but also help everyone understand why it is imperative to the development of thoughtful and capable students.

What is academic writing?

First, what is academic writing? Most students see writing as something they just have to do because a teacher says so, and it becomes a painful and time-consuming assignment. Our mission is to end this kind of thinking.

Simply put, academic writing is teaching students how to write essays. That sounds pretty simple, but there is a lot more to it than that.

Essay writing is the process of sharing complex ideas, thoughts, or opinions. Writers learn to construct a rather complicated argument or explanation by combining sentences into paragraphs and paragraphs into an essay.

Academic writing demands writers become clear in their explanations and reasoning, direct in their communication, and most importantly, able to make readers understand their topic and thesis.

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Although it may appear at first that the people who have the most to benefit from writing are writers, managers, businessmen, journalists, or keynote speakers, that cannot be further from the truth.

Each and every one of us can take away something from developing and honing our writing skills, even if it’s just a simple practice of keeping a journal.

As human beings are social animals, we need to communicate with each other on a daily basis.

Although the majority of that interaction is carried out verbally or non-verbally , a great deal of communication requires us to write. The most obvious example of this is posts or messages on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. This also includes text messages we send each using our smartphones, or through platforms like Skype, Viber, and WhatsApp.

Of course, emails still have their place and some even still hold on to the lost art of writing letters . These are all instances where we are required to write, but what about benefits of writing just for the sake of writing? How can we make use of that?

The following list contains eight reasons why good writing skills can improve your life, and make you a well-rounded, happier individual.

1. Writing Helps Your Clear Your Mind

We've all sometimes felt the need to vent and speak our minds in order to get our point across.

Well, writing can help you do that.

Try and write down all of your thoughts, grievances, doubts, fantasies, and pretty much everything else that crosses your mind. Just write, without thinking about what lands on paper or your computer screen. It may seem like the end result is something pretty chaotic, but that’s not the point.

The point is for you to clear your mind, so that you can go about your day, working, solving problems, and just enjoying life. Without all those thoughts in the back of your head distracting you, you will find it easier to work and focus, no matter what your profession is.

2. Writing Will Help You Recover Memories

You will be surprised at how writing is able to bring back old and almost forgotten memories.

Start writing down those which you do remember. Before you know it, a certain word or a phrase you’ve put down on paper will trigger some other memory you would never have thought of otherwise. Some of those memories won’t be pleasant, but you will be able to look at them from a distance and put them perspective, and ponder how much you have learned from those experiences.

On the other hand, happy memories will put a smile on your face, and you will remember events and people you care about, driving you to get in touch with them again.

3. You Will Be Able to Stockpile Ideas

It is a good rule of thumb to always write down ideas that pop up out of nowhere because you will be less likely to forget about them that way.

You can try and keep them inside your head but, seeing as we live in a digital age, we process an insane amount of information. We are bound to forget most of them, and that includes some great and precious ideas.

However, when you write them down, you will not only save them from being forgotten, but it will be easier for you to develop them and connect them with one another. You can even come up with new ones through brainstorming.

4. Put Your Life Events into Perspective

One of the most basic examples of this is keeping a journal, but it’s not the only way of putting things into perspective.

Writing fiction will also help you analyze things and look at them from a different point of view. You will be able to draw parallels between those fictional events and situations, and those which took place for real in your life. This will help you look at them in a more objective light.

Another effective way of doing this is to start a blog. This will make you think long and hard before you write anything down since your work will read by an audience.

5. Improve Your Verbal and Written Skills

When you are writing something down, you become more careful in choosing the right words. This means your writing will be more eloquent, concise, and elegant than your actual speech.

But, if you keep at it long enough, plenty of those beautifully put together words, phrases, and sentences will begin to find their way in into your verbal communication skills . You will start to use an expanded vocabulary, which will leave a better impression of you on the person you are communicating with. Both your personal and professional lives stand to benefit from this.

6. You Will Feel like You Have Accomplished Something

You know that pleasant sense of accomplishment after building or fixing something, or winning a simple game?

You will also get that feeling once you finish writing a short story, your daily blog post, or your latest journal entry. Those who are more ambitious can take on writing a novel, or a book, which is even more satisfying and brings a greater sense of accomplishment. But, for the time being, stick to shorter forms and, who knows, you might even be able to publish some of your work down the line, or earn some money on the side thanks to your writing skills.

7. It’s a Great Mental Exercise

Keeping in shape doesn’t just apply to exercising your body regularly. You can do the same for you mind as well. Writing activates a number of different cognitive processes, and unleashes your creativity.

All of this will keep your brain sharp and active, and it can even act as a preventative measure against some mental illnesses, such as Alzheimer's or dementia. You can even join an online writing course to hone your skills and practice.

As you can see, there are plenty of ways in which you can benefit from writing on a regular basis, even if you are not a professional writer. All of these tips will lead you to become a more accomplished, eloquent, and satisfied person.

Great writing skills go a long way toward establishing you as a more complete person too. You will be able to improve your social life, and become a better professional.

Start writing today and reap the benefits.

About the Author

After a few years being a freelance teacher, Laura decided to become a freelance writer and editor instead.

She has worked many happy years as a writer, where she helps to edit the work of some of their most diligent and professional writers.

She one day hopes to own a ranch in Texas and has already started saving for the deposit.

Continue to: How Writing Can Make You a Better Person Journaling for Personal Development: Creating a Learning Journal

See also: Lifelong Learning | How to Write a Letter Writing your CV or Resume | Gender Neutral Writing

Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

benefit of literature to you as a student essay

The benefit of literature to a medical student

Martin Conwill United Kingdom

In a letter to Benjamin Bailey in 1817, John Keats, who only one year prior was a medical student himself, wrote: “I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the heart’s affections and the truth of imagination – what the imagination sees as beauty must be truth.” 1 This proclamation can be taken as a view of the role of art in the search for truth—the pursuit of truth about the human condition through acts of imagination such as reading literature, viewing a painting, or listening to music. In the search for the truth in medicine we take the need for science as readily apparent, but the role of art is less clear. It is evident that the medical and clinical sciences should be taught and learnt systematically and in depth. However, a purely bio-scientific model of medicine neglects the ethical and artistic dimensions involved with patient interactions, offering a limited view of human illness. This view has led to the increasing acknowledgement that the arts are of value in medical education, coinciding with the burgeoning field of medical humanities in which literature plays an important role. 2 This essay explores the benefits of literature to a medical student. Arguments exploring this notion are presented and discussed below, illustrated by texts including Allan Bennett’s A Life Like Other People’s , Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper,” and poems by Phillip Larkin such as “Heads in the Women’s Ward.”

Patient perspectives and empathy

Patients are complex human beings that experience problems within a plethora of contexts, emotional and existential. To provide the best care future doctors need to be able to appreciate these multiple personal dimensions. If a medical student’s own personal frame of reference proves insufficient then literature can offer fresh perspectives. As T.S. Elliot observed “we read many books, because we cannot know enough people.” 3

In Phillip Larkin’s poems “Heads in the Women’s Ward,” “How,” and “The Building,” 4 we are reminded of how alien and terrifying hospitals and illness must be for patients and relatives. In “Heads in the Women’s Ward” Larkin describes the experience of being on the ward and the thoughts on ageing and mortality that this generated:

On pillow after pillow lies The wild white hair and staring eyes; Jaws stand open; necks are stretched With every tendon sharply sketched; A bearded mouth talks silently To someone no one else can see. Sixty years ago they smiled At lover, husband, first born child. Smiles are for youth. For old age come Death’s terror and delirium. 4

Hospitals are significant places for people, places of birth and death. The interactions patients have with health care professionals within these places can be extraordinary and highly significant. Although this significance may, understandably, become lost on medical students through busy days on clinical placement, through reading literature there can be a reconnection with the patient perspective. This is shown in Larkin’s poem “The Building,” with the “place” being a hospital in Hull, United Kingdom: 4

This place accepts. All know they are going to die. Not yet, perhaps not here, but in the end, And somewhere like this. That is what it means, This clean sliced cliff; a struggle to transcend The thought of dying, for unless its powers Out build cathedrals nothing contravenes The coming dark, though crowds each evening try With wasteful, weak, propitiatory flowers.

Through offering renewed perspective and fresh insight literature can aid students in empathizing with the patient’s condition. In Allen Bennett’s A Life Like Other People’s , he describes candidly his mother’s descent via depression to dementia and his interactions with the health care system in the United Kingdom. 5 In this book we are given a son’s perspective on his mother’s illness and how this comes to affect the whole family.

His descriptions of the care home where his mother was placed, like Larkin’s poems, remind us of how alien and terrifying such places can be. In one particularly insightful account of his mother’s Alzheimer’s Bennett describes beautifully how the uniqueness of self within his mother is gradually lost as her disease progresses. He uses the metaphor of her changing appearance to illustrate this. Other people’s clothes and glasses gradually become her own due to the home’s chaotic laundry system, until she has none of her own clothes left. In addition the nurses stop using his mother’s correct name, instead using a nickname, over familiarity that he believes his mother would have found “common.” Reading passages such as this allows us to transport ourselves into the shoes of those who are going through difficulty and suffering. This can cultivate our empathy by revealing to us pertinent aspects of a patient’s illness that may be unrealized or unappreciated.

Descriptive accounts of actual illnesses in literature are also useful in increasing our understanding of patients’ perspectives and cultivating empathy. 6 In psychiatric conditions this is particularly relevant as disorders can involve altered aspects of personhood that we may find hard to comprehend. 2 Literature, especially written by authors who have experienced mental illness, allows us to engage within the minds of those who have suffered from psychiatric conditions. In Gilman’s short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” 7 the narrator is suffering from an unspecified nervous aberration. 7 In her own life Gilman suffered from depression, which she described as a “sort of grey fog drifting across my mind that grew and darkened,” leaving her a “mental wreck” with “constant dragging weariness, absolute incapacity, absolute misery.” 7

In the short story the narrator is also a woman suffering from depression-like symptoms who gradually becomes obsessed with the yellow wallpaper in her room, where she is imprisoned by the well-intentioned orders of her husband, a physician. The short story brings us closer to understanding the feelings experienced during depression:

I don’t feel it is worth my while to turn my hand over for anything, and I’m getting dreadfully fretful and querulous. I cry at nothing, and cry most of the time. Of course I don’t when John is here, or anybody else but when I am alone. And I am alone a good deal just now. 7

Students can read about symptoms such as these described in any list from any textbook, but to understand how they may feel requires an act of imagination, one which is necessary to be a good doctor. Literature can aid us in this endeavour by connecting us to the deeper elements in a patient’s psyche, enabling us to view things more effectively from their perspective. The examples from Larkin, Bennett, and Gilman show how through imagining and engaging with literary characters presented to us health care professionals can see things from a fresh perspective and develop empathy.

A broader context

“The Yellow Wallpaper” is also useful in demonstrating how medical students must be aware that medicine is practiced within personal, cultural, and political contexts. The short story is a feminist work that is believed to have been written in response to Gilman’s own patronising treatment by an eminent nerve specialist of the time. In it she exposes the patriarchal and patronising practices of the narrator’s husband, a doctor. Referred to as a “little girl” the narrator is encouraged to avoid all contact and creativity. 7 Her isolation and imprisonment in the room with the yellow wallpaper mirrors the restrictive and crippling social and economic pressures imposed on women in the nineteenth century. Eventually her sanity is lost and she begins to see hallucinations and delusions arising from the wallpaper. The short story reminds us that medicine is an important factor in, and a reflection of, our cultural and political landscape. Reading literature such as “The Yellow Wallpaper” can enable students to remain aware of and sensitive to this fact.

Aesthetics and narratives

The aesthetic approach to using literature in medicine is stated to create improved interpretational skills of narrative when interacting with patients. 9 It suggests that the skills developed when thinking about characters in a novel can be applied to understanding patient narratives in the real world. 2

In medical education we see narratives all around us. Conducting a patient history is essentially eliciting a narrative. When hearing this narrative back there is a need to use intuition and imagination to interpret aspects of what the patient has said. Certain literary devices are relevant in this regard. The unreliable narrator is one such example. In Ian McEwan’s Enduring Love the reader is unsure whether to trust the description of events by Joe, the narrator and protagonist. 10 In the story, his wife begins to question his interpretations of events, sowing the seeds of doubt in the reader. Certain red herrings are placed in the plot such as Joe’s handwriting, which is remarkably similar to Jed’s, his stalker who is ill with de Clerambault’s syndrome. Understanding this unreliability in narration is an important skill that can obviously be related to clinical practice, such as when trying to extract information about socially unacceptable behaviors such as drinking to excess.

Another example of a literary device that could be relevant to clinical practice is multiple narrators. In Willkie Collin’s detective novel The Moon Stone , eleven different narrators describe the story of the stolen moonstone from their points of view. 11 The book highlights the difference between subjective experience and objective reality; it requires the reader to interpret what each narrator is saying through an understanding of their viewpoint. In certain situations, such as emergency medicine, pediatrics, or geriatrics in particular, understanding this difference may be of clinical benefit.

Patients themselves often have their own personal narratives which drive their decisions and behavior. Reading can help us to encounter some of these narratives in literature. For example, some patients may be rebellious against hierarchy and authority, such as McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest . 8 Others may be neurotic and overly troubled such as Dostoyevsky’s narrator in Notes from the Underground , or his creation in The Double Mr. Yakov Petrovich Golyakin, 12 while others may be driven to understate their pain such as Allen Bennett’s father in A Life Like Other People’s . 5 Understanding these personal narratives can help doctors predict the reactions and behavior of their patients and improve communication.

The degree to which the skills picked up when reading a novel can be transferred to real interactions is debatable. However, an understanding of narrative is unquestionably important in medicine. Although the aesthetic approach to understanding narrative may appear slightly academic to some, the general idea, that through reading literature medical students can better understand and communicate with a variety of people, is convincing.

Reflecting and connecting

Literature can give us a greater appreciation of the patient’s perspective, their stories, and their illnesses. However, to become good doctors, students also need methods of connecting with their own inner thoughts and feelings. It is often purported that in clinical practice one must maintain a level of detachment. 13 However, to never let the guard down and feel is inhumane and harmful. In literature there is a safe place to allow feelings, inappropriate at the bedside, to be revisited and reflected upon. In Allen Bennett’s A Life Like Other People’s he describes the quiet dignified life and death of his parents. 5 After getting to know the characters of his parents and their relationships with Bennett, we are in need of his reflections upon their death and how he resolves this issue within himself. Through his insights on this subject students can reflect upon their own thoughts on life and death. Literature such as this can allow students and clinicians to relive feelings during periods of death and suffering that, at the time, were necessary to suppress; this can perhaps help them find some level of resolution and resolve.

Arguments that question the proposed benefits of literature

Despite some convincing arguments for the benefit of literature to medical students there are many who do not see a clear relationship between the arts and medical education and there are more still, due to their hectic schedules and demanding studies, who fail to find time to connect with literature even if they wish to.

Earlier in this essay it was discussed how reading may allow students to develop their empathy. However, the argument that the arts can increase our empathy for those in suffering and therefore make us more caring people is challenged by many. 15 In A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, the main protagonist Alex, leader of the “droogs,” involves himself in acts of indiscriminate “ultra-violence” yet Burgess chooses to give his character a love of Beethoven. 16 This juxtaposition of high art with inhumane acts illustrates how an appreciation of the humanities does not necessarily make someone humane.

It must be acknowledged that the content of what we read may not always instil within us empathy and a caring nature befitting of a doctor. For example in Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged she presents through fiction the arguments for her philosophy of rational egoism and demonstrates her rejection of ethical altruism. 17 This philosophy is largely incompatible with large sections of the Hippocratic Oath. This example goes to show how books in themselves are not necessarily “good” in the sense that they may not contain ideas that are suited to the practice of ethical medicine.

In a separate point there is a notion that overly “bookish people” who substitute experience for literary representations in the process lose touch with reality. 2 Marcel Proust acknowledged this when he wrote “reading is on the threshold of spiritual life; it can introduce us to it; it does not constitute it.” 18 In medical education this statement will often hold true—literary descriptions of medical emergencies or the experience of seeing death will never be as powerful as experiencing them for real.

These arguments should not be dismissed offhand; many patients would be worried if they believed their doctors were spending too much time reading novels and not enough time reading text books. However, the arguments presented fail to recognize how art need not be a substitute for science or a crutch for the inexperienced and un-personable—it can become a part of life, giving color, insight, and space to reflect.

This essay has explored the assertion that literature is of benefit to the medical student. Reading literature can enable us to see things from multiple perspectives and cultivate our empathy, allowing students to connect more deeply with the emotions of patients. Moreover, depictions of medicine in literature give us an artistic and culturally contextualized view of its practice, allowing students to reconnect with the wider context and significance of their field. Literature also provides a space for personal reflection and connection with emotions suppressed in day-to-day clinical education. There are arguments that question the proposed benefits of literature and many are disinclined to believe it beneficial. However, there are the beginnings of sea change in this point of view, and for students who are inclined to read literature, it can be a great comfort, an insightful teacher, and an invaluable tool.

  • Keats J. John Keats letter to Benjamin Bailey. 1817.
  • Oyebode F. Mind readings literature and psychiatry. London: The Royal College of Psychiatrists; 2009.
  • Elliot T,S. Notes towards the definition of culture. London: Faber Faber; 1973.
  • Larkin P. Collected poems. London: Faber Faber; 2003.
  • Bennett A. A life like other people’s. London: Faber Faber; 2009.
  • Charon R. Literature and medicine, contributions to clinical practice. Annals of Internal Medicine . 1995;122(8):599-606.
  • Gilman Charlotte Perkins. The yellow wallpaper. London: Virago Press; 1981.
  • Kesey K. One flew over the cuckoo’s nest. London: Penguin Classics; 2002.
  • McLellan MF, Jones AH. Why literature and medicine? Lancet . 1996;348(9020):109-111.
  • McEwan I. Enduring love. London: Jonathan cape; 1997.
  • Collins W. The moon stone. London: Penguin; 1994.
  • Dostoyevsky. Notes from the underground. London: Penguin Classics; 1972.
  • Kirklin D, Richardson R. Medical humanities a practical introduction. London: Royal College of Physicians; 2001.
  • Barnes J. The sense of an ending. London: Random House; 2011.
  • Bloom H. How to read and why. London: Fourth Estate; 2000.
  • Burgess A. A Clockwork orange. London: Penguin; 2011.
  • Rand A. Atlas shrugged. London: Penguin; 2007.
  • de Button A. How Proust can save your life. Vintage; 1998.

MARTIN CONWILL is a fourth year medical student currently studying Psychological Medicine at the University of Birmingham (United Kingdom). He is hoping to graduate in 2015 and is looking forward to the challenge and responsibility of working as a junior doctor. He believes the humanities have a much wider role to play in medical education and can give prospective doctors a broader educational basis and a more open and rounded outlook toward their future practice.

Highlighted in Frontispiece Volume 5, Issue 3 – Summer 2013 and Volume 15, Issue 2 – Spring 2023

Summer 2013  |  Sections   |  Education

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benefit of literature to you as a student essay

By the Northeastern Community

What are the benefits of essay writing.

by Matthew | Sep 6, 2022 | Uncategorized | 0 comments


If you are a student in college or university, you may be wondering why essays feature so heavily in your academic career. Regardless of your major, you will probably have to write several essays each semester. In fact, essay writing is viewed as such an important skill that students are given basic essay writing assignments from as early as elementary school.

Because essay writing can be a challenge, many students naturally feel averse to it. With so many overwhelming commitments and deadlines, it is lucky that students can easily order essay online to avoid failing. That said, essay writing can help you to gain valuable lifelong skills under the right circumstances. This article will explore some of them.

Why do we get many essay assignments?

Before we go into how essay writing is useful, let us look at why students have to write so many essays. Although the academic essay has been an integral part of the higher education experience for centuries, students today are given more frequent and harder essay assignments. Why?

You may be surprised to learn that the Internet played a crucial role in increasing our essay writing workload. Because so much information has been moved from dusty tomes and academic textbooks onto the web, people can access information quicker and more conveniently than ever.

Therefore, there is no longer a need for the academic system to prioritize memorization and recollection. While examinations and recitation used to be the standard way to assess learning, they are now largely irrelevant. Instead, educational institutions are focusing their efforts on developing higher-level abilities such as critical thinking.

Hence, essay writing is now widely utilized as an effective method of evaluating the understanding and analytical skills of students. If you are wondering how this shift in the education system helps you, here are the advantages that you can gain from essay writing.

1. You learn to research and analyze evidence

If students want to create an excellent essay, they must be able to correctly locate and make use of evidence that is relevant to the topic. Finding relevant sources of information from academic journals, the Internet, and independent research is a painstaking and involved process. When doing research for your essay, you learn how to conduct efficient research and separate useful knowledge from extraneous (albeit interesting) information.

Instead of simply regurgitating concepts that you studied in class, essay writing forces you to use critical thinking. You need to determine the kind of evidence that you need and undertake the relevant research to find it. Then, you must differentiate reputable and disreputable sources of information and apply standards to the evidence that you use to support your claims.

2. You learn to construct and defend arguments

It is futile having a strong opinion about a subject without having the skills to explain your point of view and persuade others to accept it. In the process of writing an essay, you learn how to formulate and defend your arguments. You learn to develop your idea from a single point and expand it into several smaller arguments that cover various facets of the issue. In short, you learn how to give your arguments substance.

Being able to effectively communicate one’s ideas is an important part of any profession. It also helps you to become a more well-rounded person. When writing an argumentative essay, you practice anticipating and addressing opposing views, which teaches you to see your issue from different perspectives. Through essay writing, you learn to articulate your thoughts in a way that is both clear and convincing.

3. You improve your writing skills

Essay writing allows you to put your talents to the test. You can improve your overall writing ability and confidence by routinely practicing writing. When you write an essay, you become familiar with mechanical writing skills, such as grammar, spelling, and punctuation, which are critical in all forms of written communication. Outside of academia, these writing skills will help you in many aspects of your future career.

Furthermore, essay writing provides you with the opportunity to receive expert feedback. Higher education is a time for academic and personal growth. Essay writing allows you to share your thoughts and writing skills with respected professionals who have a wealth of insight and experience. Whether you send your essay to a professional editor or your professor, you will come away with valuable advice on how to improve.

4. You learn to organize effectively

Essay writing is not merely about writing. It takes a fair measure of time management and organization to fit research, planning, and writing into your busy study schedule. You also apply organizing skills to information as you consider how to best structure your content to create the most compelling arguments. As you move blocks of time and pieces of information around in your head, you become a more effective organizer.

Students are receiving essay assignments more regularly today than ever before. As essay requirements become more demanding and difficult, it helps to remember that the exercise is designed to develop your skills and not just a sadistic requirement from your professors. However, if you are truly unable to cope with your essay workload, it can help to hire a professional essay writer to lend a hand.

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benefit of literature to you as a student essay

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Five Reasons to Study Literature

Posted in Homeschool View on Monday, October 1, 2007

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benefit of literature to you as a student essay

Expo 50 contest runner-ups: Olivia Wolf’s story and Mia Ressa’s art

Lewis and Clark High School’s Mia Ressa, sophomore, is a runner-up for the Expo 50 art contest.  (Mia Ressa)

To mark Expo ’74’s anniversary, The Spokesman-Review, in partnership with Spokane Public Schools and Expo 50, held a writing and art contest for high school students.

The contest was open to anyone in grades 9-12 from the newspaper circulation area in Eastern Washington and North Idaho.

The runner-up entry was written by Olivia Wolf, a sophomore at Lewis and Clark High School.

The first thing that I saw was your eyes. The spark of joy that encapsulated them as you laughed, a laugh that seemed so familiar to me. A familiarity like I had heard you laugh my entire life. You tossed a piece of kettle corn into the air, and so easily it dropped into your mouth. The next minute I blinked, and you were gone. The memory disappeared in an instant, like waking up after a good dream. The only thing you want is to go back, to go back to the fantasy that is dreaming. All I wanted was to hold onto that memory, to hold onto it for just a moment longer.

I have spent 50 years waiting, waiting to see you again. I see a spark in someone else’s eyes, and it takes me back to that moment, that moment at the world’s fair. The pounding in my chest as I am watching you all over again, watching you laugh and everything around you goes silent. A spark of hope electrifies my body, and for a moment, I actually believe it is you.

Sometimes I try to imagine what you must look like 50 years older, I image wrinkles and grayer hair, but in all of my imaginations, your laugh is always the same. It is something that in my mind will always stand the test of time. It is everything when there is nothing, like a star in a desolate sky.

That day was a day that changed my entire life. My dreams of going to space, inventing the new greatest form of technology, or marrying some really rich girl all went out the window. Nothing mattered except for you, you were my everything and I was nothing.

I remember the crowds as I walked into the fair. There were more people than I could have imagined: 5.2 million visitors crowded the streets of the tiny city of Spokane. The motto, “Progress Without Pollution,” was on signs everywhere you looked. I remember the lights and the noises as everyone was trying to urge you to go this way or that, to see this attraction or the next. It fascinated me to see so many different people trying to stay with their families or friends, others with a look of defeat dragging down their faces because there was no way they were going to be able to find their group again. The atmosphere was electric as people moved constantly in a desperate hurry to get somewhere, who really knows where.

I was standing and watching people around me, telling people that, “No, I would not like to learn about sustainable ways to clean up the land along the Spokane River,” or, “volunteer to help solve the traffic problem that has been caused by the railroads,” when I saw her. She was sitting with a group of friends, and the moment she caught my eye, all the chaos around me disappeared. I watched her for a few minutes, some guy walked up to me and asked me something, but I wasn’t paying attention, and in a moment he just walked away. It took me a few minutes to get up the courage to talk to her, but I finally did.

The entire day, she wouldn’t tell me her name. I followed her around as she went from one place to the next, not really stopping anywhere long enough to actually learn anything about the environment. I just smiled as I watched her curious expression turn to boredom and then happiness as she went on to the next place. I think she liked the attention as I asked her questions about her life that she chose not to answer. The mystery of her was what pulled me in. It was a lock, I just had to find the key.

As the fair started to close down for the day, I wanted to go see the falls of the Spokane River. I watched as the water plummeted down with such a force that it would be certain you would die if you fell into it.

She had been standing right by my side and at this moment I decided to ask her her name again, but I looked to my side, and she wasn’t anywhere to be found.

You never know what will happen

Chances are you or someone you love has experienced what it’s like to be a caregiver while juggling life’s bills and responsibilities.


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