English Literature The proposal to eliminate the study of literature from the curriculum for future online study strikes me as absurd. While others certainly understand the costs and benefits of the inclusion of literature in the online curriculum,these same people who may deeply understand how to evaluate business and economic conditions are woefully out of touch with other, more important conditions, namely those which provide for the complete education adn inner-development of young people (and non-traditional students) who are actively pursuing knowledge.One example which stands out in my mind from personal experience is Emily Dickinson’s poem ‘The Chariot.” I would most likely have ever heard of this great poem had it not been introduced to me by way of the school curriculum which is now being seriously considered as obsolete. This poem, among many others by Emily Dickinson, was not only instructive to me as an illustration of great literature, but it changed something vitally important in my personal experience of life, and this change is more dramatic and personally meaningful to me than any equation or business strategy that I have ever studies.It’s possible that many people don’t feel a vital connection with poetry in heir lives and therefore can view the experience of poetry as something non-essential; however, when I read the lines: “Because I could not stop for Death,/ He kindly stopped for me; /The carriage held but just ourselves/ And Immortality.
” I not only felt a deep connection to their ideas and images of the poem, but the idea and image of the poem gave me a feeling of inclusiveness with the rest of humanity, and because of this, the poem offers a very real “antidote” to my personal fear of mortality. I don’t know what the experience of others has been with school studies and curriculums, but — personally — out side of the literature classes I have taken, these kind of important questions which every person thinks about are never talked about in economics, math, or even science classes.If the idea of education is going to be primarily that it prepares one for their future work and future life, then the place of poetry and literature should not be questioned at all. In evidence all over the world we see “successful’ people who have provided for themselves and attained positions of power in the world, but they are often still unhappy and sometimes they are a danger to the world and to people around them because their unhappiness is so great. if this unhappiness doesn’t stem from an inability to “be ready for life’ on a material level, then where does it come from? The answer is: it as emotional and psychological rather than material question.
Literature and poetry address the motional and psychological side of human existence at the same necessary level that science and math address the “objective” experience of humanity. What happens to the successful CEo who wakes up inthe middle of he night, gripped by a terror of his own prsonal mortality? If that person has the example of literature and poetry to fall back on, he will be able to read or rememerb EMily Dickinson’s wodnerful closing lines to “The Chariot”:We paused before a house that seemedA swelling of the ground;The roof was scarcely visible.The cornice but a mound.;Since then ’tis centuries; but eachFeels shorter than the dayI first surmised the horses’ headsWere toward eternity.;And I am telling you from personal experience that this poem brings true comfort and understanding in those moments. This sentiment is backed up by the personal experience of millions of others who have read this poem — and that comfort and wisdom of poetry is as equally important, even to a CEO, as the ability to “crunch numbers.
” It is a different intellectual paradigm for a different set of challenges and literature enables understanding of life just like math or science.Of course, one example of a great poem should be enough in itself to bring the entire “debate” about the intrinsic value of teaching literature to a close, but I’ve no doubt that poetry — alone — can achieve this goal even if it should be able to do so. If the teaching of literature is deemed obsolete, then you will also have destroyed the conveyance of wisdom and meaning and the lessons of life that emerge from novels, short fiction, and plays. So what? you may well ask. But have you considered that the result would be the loss of Shakespeare’s works to a significant number of people who would otherwise benefit over the course of their entire lives by even a minimal guided study of a single work.In my own case, reading Shakespeare’s play “Othello” has produced within me a better understanding of human motivation, of the nature of human love and loyalty adn the issue of envy and jealousy than any number of ours spent pouring over a sociology text-book. And anyone who thinks there are not valuable life-lessons to be learned from the study of Shakespeare’s plays — particularly Othello– is in my opinion insufficiently endowed, mentally, to make any judgment about the nature or purpose of literature at all.
It is impossible to suggest that experiencing “Othello” and being exposed to chaacracters like Iago and Othello adn Desdemona and the ensuing tragic outcomes presented in the play won’y have learned from that play, not only technical things about “literature” but important things about life itself, valuable wisdom which can’t be earned form any other academic subject.;;;;