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What Is Literature and Why Study Literature Essay

At often times, literature is thought of as lackluster works and long books and passages. People often think that literature is one thing, not knowing that it is in actuality composed of several elements that we all use in our daily lives. In order to get a clear understanding of exactly what literature is, we must first identify the definition. According to Merriam- Webster, literature is defined as the body of written works produced in a particular language, country, or age; the body of writings on a particular subject : printed matter.

This definition however is a bit deceiving in truly understanding what literature really is. In the dictionary definition of literature, it is constantly being referred to as written works, however, it known from the broad perspective of literature that literature can be in oral from as well as written from. The oral form includes the literature types of song, folklore, fables and myths. The written form, on the other hand can either be in the real form of biographies and science, or the imaginative form of poetry, prose fiction and drama.

The specific perspective of literature makes a clearer example of how literature plays a critical role in our lives. The specific perspective of literature is composed of poetry, prose and drama. We are surrounded by poetry, prose, and drama everyday of our lives. Whether it is a song that we are listening to on the radio or in the supermarket, or a story that we are telling to someone that we know, or a comedic or tragedy movie or show that we are watching on television.

There are a lot of reasons why we study literature and all of these reasons fall under three very important values: Human Value, Thought Value: and Language Value. All three values go hand in hand. An individual’s human value often translates to their thought value, which often translates to their language value, which is why the study of literature is very important. The concept of Human Values refers to understanding that human emotions cut across class, creed and race. It helps us to tolerate human differences and build better bonds that may lead to peace and harmony thereby leading to a better society.

For example if people took time out to read and learn about other cultures, they will be able to get a better understanding of why people do things that may be “different” in their culture but the norm in the culture of the other person. Human value helps us to understand that though, people all have the same emotions; they can be expressed in different ways; if we learn how to interpret literature, we will have a better understanding of life, people and their behaviors and have better social skills.

Thought values are our cognitive values that help us in making choices with clearly defined reasons. It helps us to explore multiple perspectives to problem solving and knowing what fact from fiction is. For instance if a person goes through college without actually studying the literature set before them, they may have the grade but not the ability to decipher “common sense” situations. We study literature to have the ability to consider situations set before us and have a variety of approaches to resolve them, also to understand why people make the decisions that they make.

The idea of language values simply helps us to understand language and the use of words in everyday conversation. With literature we develop skills for everyday conversation in the formulation of words and sentences and also for the gathering of information when appropriate. There is no college curriculum in which literature is not a requirement as early as freshman year. This is because literature serves as a foundation for all college work.

We need to study literature in order to learn proper annunciation of words in communication, and to develop the ability to speak clearly as well as being a good listener. In summary, if we appreciate human value, we will have better thought values towards other individuals, which will make our language values with other people more successful. Works Cited Kirszner and Mandell, Literature (Reading, Reacting Writing), 5th Ed. Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary copyright © 2005 by Merriam-Webster, Incorporated


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