Dr. LuAnn McCracken Fletcher

About Me
Courses I Teach
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Why Study Lit?
The English Program


Eagle and Child PubWhy do I study literature? My first reason: because it's fun. Escaping into the world created by a good book has got to be one of the most satisfying experiences one can have--what a great way to step outside one's own space and time! I also believe that by studying literature, whether it's "old" or "new," we give ourselves the chance to encounter those familiar and unfamiliar events and those personal, frequently ethical, dilemmas, that shape human experience and human decision-making. In our modern, visual culture, we might think that leisure reading is fast becoming an unnecessary activity, but I don't agree. My own experience and those of my students teach me that literature is valuable, not because it provides us with answers to the challenges of life, but because it helps us to formulate the questions we should ask--indeed, we must ask, if we are to make wise choices as individuals and as human societies.  Literature gives us a window on the worlds and cultures of authors who, like us, experienced or experience life's richness and pain, but who, perhaps unlike us, have noticed the moments we overlook in our hurry to move on.

Reading literature won't by itself make you a better person; by itself, it certainly won't get you a job. But it can help you to acquire a habit of observation, a sensitivity to the unsaid but implied, an ability to step outside of your own perspective to understand the perceptions of others. And these skills will help you to get you a job--and to advance once you have that job--because the abilities to analyze complex situations, to communicate with and to understand others, and to think creatively are valued by employers. Reading literature for its challenges and consolations is not just a pasttime, but an activity that will serve you well in any job, including life itself. End of sermon!