Before the importance of literature is discussed we must ask ourselves: “What is literature?” Many individuals that are asked that question will often give a complex answer for it seems to be a complex word. Some of the answers may include “it involves reading” or “it’s when you write”. These are both true, but when you actually think about it, literature is so much more than that, especially with how often we use it in our day-to-day lives; we speak it, we observe it, we use it in science, etc. Ever since the beginning of time, literature has always been present among men. It has been useful to depict their feelings, thoughts, desires, tragedies, and history.
Before the technological advancements and benefits that we use today for entertainment or learning existed, learning was in one way or another completely tied in with literature. As time progressed, mankind eventually found other ways to display their feelings, ideals or thoughts without the use of literature, but that doesn’t mean it’s still not important. The best overall way to describe literature today is that it is lost in transition with the rise of technology and other forms of popular entertainment. Literature is just as important as it always has been; it’s just not as popular and as it once was.
It should still be a top priority for society, considering the first things we learn in school are how to read and write. In old times, when a child started attending school, the first things they learned were how to read and count. Nowadays, that hasn’t seemed to change; methods might be different, but literature makes its presence known to us even when we are young and is a great asset to developing other skills needed to be successful later in life. In a recent study undertaken by Literary Research and Instruction, the observed second-grade teacher Mae Graham used “class readings to foster engagement and student-initiated talk with open discussions….emphasizing the power of dialogue in providing a space for students to meaningfully use language.” (Worthy 308).
Literature is just as important and meaningful in our lives from the very first time we begin to use it. From the days of elementary school to college, there is reading and writing involved. Even if one doesn’t realize it, literature is present almost everywhere, but it’s just hiding in plain sight. It can be located in items such as digital environments, films, graphic novels, and comic books. Movie and the famous lines within them are derived from literature, comic books and graphic novels may have pictures, but there are words to go along with the plot, and even when you use take a photo, pictures can be worth a thousand words.
Any individual that believes they don’t experience enough literature in their lives needs to realize that books and essays are not its only limitations. When you attend a play, such as Hamlet, you are experiencing literature. If you read a Batman comic book, you’re taking in literature. If you go to the theatres and watch a Harry Potter movie, literature is related to the film at hand. If you take a picture of a typical downtown setting, literature is helping tell the story from what the viewer’s eyes can see. Literature does exist everywhere, but it doesn’t influence individuals as much as it did in the past. In order to understand how important literature is in modern times, we must also understand how it has taken a huge drop in terms of daily importance.
Before TV, internet, video games, and other advancements in society were developed, the only forms of entertainment were as such, but not limited to; storytelling, reading, and plays. Many of them were mainly told, written, or performed to so that the audience could use their imagination and let it run wild to interpret the meaning. In modern society, if one doesn’t understand the story, play or text at all, they just look up the answer on the internet. There isn’t anything wrong with this strategy, but over time, one eventually becomes dependent on the “newer” resources over the oldest and most genuine resource; the brain.
Literature is present in films, especially the ones made after novels and book but nowadays, it’s easier and more fun to watch the film rather than to read the book. If you were to ask someone if they would prefer to watch the film “Troy” starring Brad Pitt as Achilles or reading Homer’s “The Iliad”, nine times out of ten they will respond with the movie instantly. Not because they prefer movies over reading, but in actuality the movie just seems more entertaining and the movie requires less strain on the brain. Back then, the epic surrounding this tale was read and analyzed by individuals all over the world for were very entertained by it.
Today, all someone has to do is just look at Sparknotes or Cliff-notes to trick themselves into thinking they truly understand the story or the message the author is trying to convey. By using these sources, you are not making your own opinion what the story means, but rather just borrowing it from someone who actually analyzed the story in-depth. With the way things are going, literature will soon be a thing of the past and irrelevant to the future. All that will matter is if someone has internet handy to look up a theme or analyze a plot that they can’t muster their brain to figure out. So why does literature still matter? Well it is very important in the sense of not being able to grasp it while at a very young age will result in irrelevance to an individual in later life.
Recent research in England suggested that little explicit attention has been paid, either in research or policy documentation, to why literature still has a clear role to play in English education. In the study, teachers themselves were looked at along with their reading habits to see if that had any reflection on how the students were grasping literature and reading. Students that were interviewed on the matter at hand said they have reasons for reading in the first place such as entertaining themselves, to imagine, feel and reflect (Cliff Hodges 60, 67). The mind is so fresh at a very young age and it is very hungry for knowledge. If we feed the right materials to the young throughout the world, they will have so many opportunities ahead of them to succeed.
By denying the young individual the chance to use their thought to interpret or imagine what is occurring as they read will only limit the extent of their abilities as they go on with their lives. Many may think that technology and the newer styles of teaching are “easier” for the youth, but in actuality, we are going to make it harder for them later in life. Anglo-Indian novelist Salman Rushdie once said “Literature is where I go to explore the highest and lowest places in human society and in the human spirit, where I hope to find not absolute truth but the truth of the tale, of the imagination and of the heart.”(Introduction to World Literature).
Without literature, there would be no imagination or heart to what we do in our daily lives. Literature has been present since the beginning of time, and although it is being driven out by the new advancements in technology, we must do our best to preserve the older traditions that help make us better at thinking and understanding.
Literature is all around us in our everyday lives, and even though we sometimes can’t see it, it is involved either directly or indirectly with what we do. It is still very important, particularly in the education field. Teaching young individuals to read and write is the biggest part of the foundation being laid out for the house of their future. Math and science might be at top priority right now in the learning environment, but even math and science involve writing and reading. Literature is still important, with its only downside being its decline in popularity.
Cliff Hodges, Gabrielle. “Reasons for Reading: Why Literature Matters.” Literacy: UKLA. 44.2 (2012): 60,67. EBSCO:Host. Web. 3 Feb. 2013 http://web.ebscohost.com.libezproxy.tamu.edu:2048/ehost/pdfviewer/[email protected]&vid=12&hid=25>.
“Introduction to World Literature.” Invitation to World Literature. Annenberg Foundation, n.d. Web. 2 Feb 2013. <http://www.learner.org/courses/worldlit/intro.html>.
Worthy, Jo, Katharine Chamberlain, et al. “The Importance of Read-Aloud and Dialogue in an Era of Narrowed Curriculum: An Examination of Literature Discussions in a Second-Grade Classroom.” Literacy Research and Instruction. (2012): 308-310. EBSCO:Host. Web. 2 Feb. 2013. http://web.ebscohost.com.libezproxy.tamu.edu:2048/ehost/detail?vid=9&sid=8211ba49-180a459091831f76a451f34b%40sessionmgr11&hid=25&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d