Literature is one of the most long-standing fields of study in education, from the emphasis in traditional schools on Latin texts to modern schools and universities encouraging the study of modern classics. But what's the advantage of studying literature academically, rather than just enjoying it? In fact, studying literature can enhance your enjoyment of books, as well as developing more general skills and preparing you for a wide range of careers.
Studying Literature in Your Mother Tongue
Some books can simply be read and enjoyed, without too much thought going into them. These are books where the authorsimply says what they mean, and you don't need to dig to understand it. Most of the greater works of literature, however, while they can be read that way, will benefit from closer study. This may be because you need to understand the context better in order to fully appreciate the work's subtleties. This is most obvious with olderauthors, such as Chaucer or Shakespeare, but as a 21st century person you might not fully understand, for example, Dickens's London, Joyce's Dublin or Harper Lee's Mississippi. Your teacher will help you better understand these relatively alien societies. Even if there aren't any cultural aspects to understand, though, the most sophisticated literature, whether poetry or prose, is usually multi-layered. In order to unpick the more complex ideas the author's trying to get over, it's necessary to learn how to analyse the work, and this isn't something most people can do without training and practice.
Studying Literature in a Foreign Language
If you're learning a foreign language, your object may be simply to use it for work or holidays. However, a language can't be divorced from the culture that produced it, and studying the literature produced in that language is crucial to understanding the culture. At the same time, studying foreign literature will help you understand the language better. Words and phrases often have very specific meanings that can't quite be explained by simple translations. Studying how the language is used by skilled writers can give you a much deeper appreciation of how to speak like a native.
Skills Gained from Studying Literature
The most obvious skill you'll learn from studying literature is how to read critically and analytically. This can be applied to anything you read, helping you gain more out of even your casual reading. However, many of the skills you'll learn from studying literature can be applied to unrelated aspects of your career. The habits you've picked up can be applied to anything from business planning to finance, or political analysis to science. Studying literature will sharpen your mind, and that can offer a wide range of benefits.
Career Paths from Studying Literature
The traditional career paths for studying literature would be as a librarian, a teacher or one of the various careers as a writer, such as journalist or copywriter. If you're studying foreign literature as part of a language course, you'll be open to careers in countries where the language is spoken. More generally, careers for which a literature qualification would be valuable include publishing, marketing, editing, PR or management. Beyond that, however, the skills you'll gain from studying literature will be a benefit for a wide range of jobs. In a competitive job market, evidence of those skills could make all the difference in getting the job you're aiming at. If you want to improve your study of literature, a private tutor can provide considerable help. Register with TutorExtra to find the best English or foreign language literature tutors.