Mass literary regression


Graphics courtesy of Sacajawea Aububon Society

Human discourse is an incredibly complex form of communication. It becomes more complex when considering its intricacies in the field of literature. It is often disregarded as an important subject in school, and students tend to pay the least amount of attention in their literature courses. However, the importance of literature as a subject is undeniable when considering how powerful it is in our everyday lives and its impact on society.

The first scriptures are thought to have been written over 5000 years ago as a way to record events or necessary facts. Although written records still exist, the function of literature is much more intricate than it was at its conception. Rhetoric, or the art of persuasion, is used in almost every piece of literature that exists today. Music is a form of spoken literature that people are much more likely to notice rhetoric in. A song may convey certain messages and emotions that appeal to the artist’s target audience, like heartbreak or empowerment with melancholic themes. This promotes a connection between the speaker and listener by empathizing with the struggles that they have both faced, providing them with the support and comfort that they seek through the songs they listen to. 

Music is just one of the many forms of literature that reaches a major audience. Speeches, books and movies also reach many people, as they not only entertain people, but also provide knowledge and affirmation. These themes are important as humans are creatures of empathy, requiring emotional support or reassurance in times of crisis. It is important to also consider feelings of representation that are not shown often enough in media. In recent years, there has been a greater attempt at being more inclusive in terms of the identities portrayed in characters. This communicates the idea that minority groups are just as important as others, and allows kids to see themselves in a positive light, as opposed to their lack of inclusion in media. A lack of representation promotes the idea that they do not belong in the society that they are not seen in, encouraging ideas of assimilation which contributes to an erasure of cultural diversity. Being able to tell how this makes a difference is something that requires an education in literature – more specifically, rhetoric, proving the essentiality of its understanding for society.

Literature is a tool that must be studied to understand and use, and ignorance of its power could contribute to the downfall of society. Often, students can be heard complaining about how “useless” literature is, and complain that it is boring, simply because it is not as straightforward as STEM subjects like math or science. However, students must pay attention to their English courses, as on top of teaching them how to use a tool as powerful as literature, it teaches them the critical thinking skills that they would need to apply said tool in a scenario where it would be necessary.