Studying Literature Trains Your Mind For … Life!
Studying literature helps you explore what it means to live in the society and world we inhabit. Literature engages the entire range of human experience—war and peace, nature and culture, love and sexuality, justice and atrocity, the sacred and the profane, the burden of history and the dreams of the future.
Reading literary texts exercises the imagination and cultivates a capacity for understanding complexity. In this discipline, there is no presumed right answer or hard-and-fast truth. Students are challenged to handle ambiguity and be more creative and critical writers.
Study in English also builds skills of analysis and critical thinking. Students have to learn how to interpret evidence and communicate their conclusions persuasively. People who are good readers of literary texts are better readers of all kinds of texts—are more attuned to the ways that meaning gets constructed in all kinds of non-literary documents.
As Robert Frost once put it, we need “education by poetry,” because if you can’t read a metaphor, “you’re not safe anywhere” in society! Legal and political documents, for example, history and science and religion and economics are all rife with their own metaphors. Study in English helps students be more aware of—and more adept at using—the arts of persuasion.
An English major might go on to get a law degree, work in marketing or advertising, work at Microsoft or Amazon, work for a newspaper, write the web-content for a business or non-profit organization—almost anything that requires critical thinking, imagination, and effective communication.
The intellectual skills and habits of mind that an English degree teaches students are in high demand in today’s information-based economy.
-Jim Albrecht, Professor of English Literature