Why Study Literature?

In 1999, while  finishing my BA and took Literature as my major, I remember sitting in a class of only seven students.

It was after all, the degree in the Arts Department with the greatest decline in enrollment per semester.

So it  came as a little shock to my friends who are all in the Math and Sciences Department taking either BS in Commerce/majoring in Accountancy, BS in Business Administration and BS in Computer Science, I took it with humor when they utterly mock  my degree of choice.

In a friendship of six finishing a degree in a university considered as one of the best in the region, I was the only one taking a BA and so the term “nerdy” came into being.

They teased me lots with that term, I didn’t take it personally, they’re all my friends anyway.

First, literally, I didn’t fit in all the description of the word itself.

Second, physical attributes fail to make me “belong ” to the word itself.

As we all toiled hard enough to comply with each degree requirements and made Friday as a meet-up- time to catch up with each other, my nickname became “sweet nerdy”

I took it as a compliment, after all I was an exception to the word with applied meaning.

In a way, the nerdy term around the university at that time is a connotation derived from students studying the Liberal Arts.

Most of them appeared weird but brainy, dressed in retro’s of 1960’s,act and talked like it.

And most of all, they all wore big glasses and carry thick large books with them anywhere they go.

And if by chance, you start a conversation with them, expect  dropping medieval literature with the names Chaucer,Shakespeare,Donne, Dryden,Blake, Milton, Byron,James, Eliot,Dickens and the likes.

I was never one of them. I took literature because of my insatiable mind, my deepening curiosity of the extent of literature where I can none the less find evidence of a widening reading public.

There was a considerable increase in the number of new books printed annually: romances, histories,  handbook on manners,fashion and beauty, business, and the early beginnings of newspapers fed the popular demand.

I was determined to unlock the mysteries behind the decline in popularity of Literature studies globally.

First, I believe there is the over-all relationship between art and life. Great literary art transcends life.

That is ,I so believe that literary achievements are more significant than social or political actions. Somehow it even follows from this that the study of  great literary achievements is more significant than taking  social or political action.

Second, it perplexed me to know that great literature is addressed to an intellectual elite and so the extraordinary intellectual preparation necessary to teach literature greatly inspires me, furthermore, the only relevant preparation is academic which I so love to indulge.

The Bachelor of Arts Major in Literature program offered in Philippine Universities allows student to address fundamental questions about the nature, function and value of literature in a comparative context.

Students read and write about a variety of literary works across periods, genres and national tradition.

It also provides the students the skill and training to investigate traditional and contemporary approaches to literary study, literary theory, ( both ancient and modern)  and the relationship of literature to other branches of arts and sciences.

I found it appealing in the sense that graduates are equipped with intellectual capital through exposure; literature students will have marketable skills as communicator, diplomat, critic, teacher, and even entrepreneur, they can be in the fields of academe, media, research, human relations, management and supervision, foreign service, library work, politics and law.

On Graduation Day only four of us  out of seven students from the start of the semester conferred the degree.

As of this day , Literature still claimed me . My First love.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Paalam Tita Cors: Till we meet again! « EXODIANS

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