Essential Questions and Answers

This page lists the three essential questions this course has raised as well as the answers we have developed together through class discussions.

1. What is the value of studying literature?

  • A salary
  • Building empathy
  • Touching our emotions
  • Fostering discussion
  • Addressing the affective domain (i.e., rather than memorizing and listing the facts of what a horse is, such as how many legs they have [the cognitive domain], instead considering what the experience of being next to a horse is like or even of what the horse’s personal experience or emotions might be)
  • Addressing cultural controversies
  • Addressing the “collective unconscious”
  • Conveying nuanced tones of the human emotional experience that are not easily conveyed otherwise and training us to become more sensitive to those subtle tones
  • Providing a particular kind of experiential “snapshot” of a place or a culture not easily replicated through other ways.

2. How do authors and readers construct meaning?

  • voice
  • characterization
  • sound
  • plot
  • narrator/speaker
  • setting
  • symbols
  • figurative language
  • theme
  • structure

3. What is the significance of literature as a form of art?

  • Suggests the interests of both the creator and the audience
  • Conveys emotion and human experience
  • Provides a framework within to discuss the important issues impacting human life
  • Provides a space for artists to attempt to engineer new responses to the problems facing individuals and society.
  • Can makes us form questions or unsettle our received ideas and beliefs.