How and Why Do We Study Literature?

Literature is a special form of expressing emotion, a way to abreact one’s feeling about a specific topic or event. This process of expressing ourselves exists not only in literature, but also in our everyday life when we feel or generate a distinct opinion about something in our life, and this opinion often comes with a special emotion. According to psychology, the emotion that we remember are mostly going to be pessimistic. When we have these negative emotions, what we want is someone to talk to, something to sympathize with, or someone to understand the situation that you are in. In this case, literature would be one of the best way to accomplish this, for it describes the smallest sorrow in one’s life and expresses it through a series of carefully selected language, and this expression makes the reader feel that they are understood. It is that part of understanding, the fact of knowing that someone else in the world is also suffering or withstanding the similar situation, knowing that oneself is not alone in this world, creates a resonance between the reader and the writer’s intention of writing the literary piece. From the ideas above we can conclude that the reason why we study literature, is to find the type of comfort, acknowledgement, and resonance.


Having said that, to achieve these goals for studying literature, readers need to understand multiple aspects of the piece, which include but not limited to the time period the piece is created, it allows a more thorough understanding of the piece and the author’s intention; the place, geographically, of where the piece is created, it gives a clearer picture of what specific issue or problem the author was facing while creating this piece and defines the culture which the piece was written in. Moreover, the most important part, readers need to understand the true purpose of the author, what message, or say “theme”, the author is addressing and communicating with the reader through a literary piece. The message, to me, is the most important part of constructing that resonance between the reader and the author. To conclude, it is fairly important for the reader to understand the multiple aspects of one literary piece to truly understand the meaning of it.


With the points above said, I feel like I am in a pretty strong agreement with the new IB rubric on the areas of exploration in terms of studying literature.