Why We Study Literature

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Why we study literature, and its influence on the 21st century. Man has for many centuries, used literature as a medium to express his thoughts, to educate and inform the masses, and literature has been used as a textual tool for pleasure. With the coming and strong influences of the ‘Technological New Age’, the fundamentals of literature (reading to educate oneself) have been side tracked to make way for mass media and giant companies that produce technological gadgets such as cellular phones, iPods and play games. In-between the riff raff of the New Age, children now do not have the time to sit down and read a book; therefore, the only literature children come across is at school, including the limited time spent in a library, solely used for educational purposes other than reading for general knowledge. Other than that, the internet is used for research and projects; although, one might argue that this may be included as another form of literature. Authors like JK Rowling, are often praised for leading the comeback for traditional literature – more children around the world are reading Harry Potter and are anticipating future titles from this author and others; although, it may not be wise to rely on such few authors to make children take a keen interest on reading. Instead of sitting down to read a book, children now would rather go see the movie (ironically, Harry Potter books have been adapted to movies). One tends to wonder if there really is room for literature in the New Age. The New Age has brought with it popular culture, with the driving force behind it being television. Channels such as MTV and the sports channels now dominate the generation X (youth between the ages of 12 – 21) market. Fortunately, a number of channels are left primarily to serve as an educational function. What has also brought on the neglect, is the fact that most children are now interested in studying to go into the fields of commerce, maths and science; therefore, you find that the youth may start pondering on why there should be a need to appreciate literature. Well, there are several reasons why I believe that literature is important, the most fundamental reason being, that literature is a tool we use to benefit from the insight of others. The world of literature and books contains the most available knowledge about humanity and on almost anything, we can think of. Knowledge is power and the mark of a well-educated person (Ben Fine, 1996). Most of life’s important lessons are learned only if there is time to think about what has been read. One also needs to explore the contributions literature has made on history. Saint Paul of Damascus preached that the pen is mightier than the sword. When a country undergoes political struggles, there is usually a number of political detainees and prisoners who write details and accounts of their experiences, because of their writings, they are victimized and seen as threats to political regimes and to the state as a whole. It is important to acknowledge that with the writings of philosophers and historical icons, the history books we read and educate ourselves with would virtually be non-existent and based on an array of assumptions. Literature produces hard cold facts and credibility. One should not underestimate the power of language and persuasion, for they have a direct influence on some of our perceptions. Great leaders and advertisers have learned to harness the tools and techniques of communication and persuasion. Take time to listen carefully to a lawyer giving a final statement in court, or read a print advert in a magazine, the power of literature greatly influences the style communication. The play and good use of words is a result of the books they have read and their immense appreciation for literature. What is impressive about literature is how it has the ability to keep the mind on ‘its toes’. Literature may also be seen as exercise for the brain. Great literature has...
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