Why is literature important?

Students from the University of Portsmouth reflect on the role and significance of literature and literary studies.

I think Literature is extremely important as it offers a depth of perspectives on social and political issues, it allows us to connect with the past and gives us the tools to build the ideas of the future. For example, I have recently been reading ‘Anti-Oedipus’ by Deleuze and Guattari which, almost overnight, has radically changed the ways in which I conceive of the world we live in. Literature offers an incredible amount of profundity that is scarcely found in the digital slogan-based discourse that dominates our age. (Oscar Wilson, Level 5)

I believe that literature is extremely important as throughout the duration of my course I have not only improved my skills in academic writing and the analysis of literature but challenged my knowledge of previously understood concepts and enabled a deeper understanding of some cultural and historical events. Literature provides a unique insight into society that cannot be replaced. (Victoria Stuart, Class of 2020)



The study of literature allows us to be present in all walks of life, locations and circumstances, not just as a way to see or hear the troubles of another, but to feel and touch a unique time, place or reality. Literature teaches empathy, understanding, acknowledgement, and reflection but also encourages critical thinking, research and analysis, making it a much needed and multi-faceted subject area. In today’s society, and perhaps more than ever, the importance of literature is clear, as diversity and acceptance flourish and the need for change is beginning to be recognised. For me, literature is important because it incorporates a vast range of skills, topics and opportunities – more so than any other area of study. Jade Lynch (MRes, 2020)

Reading is truly an exercise in spirit, not only because it is a mentally demanding activity, but because it allows the person to experience feelings and philosophies outside the scope afforded by the mundane ‘real’ world. (Paisios Papapavlou, Class of 2020)

The purpose of society is not just to progress, but if we look at it from that perspective then one of the most important things we can do is to learn from our past mistakes. Literature offers us personal, emotional insights into periods of history that can inform our own progression. Our insights into the experiences of fringe groups often come from those who did not see themselves as historians but as writers with a story to tell. (Ayesha Askar-Harris, Class of 2020)


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