English Literature – What Is It?

Without doubt, English literature is a popular major at most colleges and universities, and it is a program that a great many overseas students enroll on. However, since the field of English literature is so broad-ranging, a lot of people get confused about what it actually is. This guide looks at the different aspects of English literature, its scope, and its role in schools and the work environment.

For a lot of foreign students, English literature is an enormous but rewarding field of study. A large number of students choose this as their major in various US colleges and universities. So, what exactly is English literature? And, moreover, why choose English literature as a subject to study rather than other subjects such as business, law, medicine, or engineering? There is no simple answer, particularly because the concept of the subject is forever changing. So, let us explore the breadth of English literature and how this applies to your studies and in today’s workplace.

What is the Very Core of English Literature?

Firstly, to define English literature is to say it is any literature written in English and not literature specifically from England or the United Kingdom!  However, it is a lot more difficult to define what literature actually is. Although it is usually considered to be poetry, novel writing, and occasionally drama, the precise meaning of literature is open to debate. In general terms, it can be defined as any written piece of artistic merit, which means that other genres such as non-fiction works, plays, and even the lyrics of songs could be thought of as literature by those with a sufficiently open mind.  However, the breadth and scope of an English literature course in most schools is usually confined to literary pursuits of the traditional variety. In most cases, a standard major in English literature usually includes a mixture of fictional prose and poetry, with other debatable literary forms mixed in to some extent.

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Why Major in English Literature Instead of Just Reading Some Classical Novels?

The answer is that if an English literature degree program can be considered worthy of its name, it will teach students about the most important literary movements and periods and introduce them to new concepts and critical thinking. It will also analyze everything in a more in-depth manner than one would manage to do on their own. It is common for the syllabus on most English courses to be divided into regions, e.g. American literature, British Literature, and world literature and by period e.g. popular markers are the period prior to 1800 and after 2000. Classes in English literature also usually introduce the student to thematic and conceptual frameworks for the analysis of literature. These help the student better understanding any readings that have been assigned to them.

Why Choose English Literature as a Subject to Study?

Studying English literature will improve your understanding and knowledge of the world in which you live. Additionally, this subject gives foreign students the foundation for a whole range of jobs once they graduate. A lot of these jobs will be within the world of literature itself. Anyone aspiring to teach at high school or college level will require a degree in English literature to achieve such a position and to teach the next generations how to appreciate and relate to the written word. The wide variety of jobs in the publishing sector e.g. proofreading, editing, and becoming a literary agent will say that English literature is the most useful field of study to get such positions. A lot of those in the creative writing field e.g. poets, novelists, drama writers, and so on, begin their careers with a major in English literature before they start giving expression to their own thoughts through the written word.

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A degree in English literature can lead to an even greater number of jobs in non-literature fields. Considering the student is likely to be an avid reader with strong writing and critical thinking skills, a literature degree can lead to a lucrative career in almost any sector or field, of which education, business, and law are just a few examples.

What Does the Term “English Literature” Mean?

Since the subject spans a wide and sometimes debatable variety of materials written in the English language, there is no easy answer. However, if you like the sound of improving your reading, writing, and understanding of the written English word, then an English literature degree should lead you to a bright future!

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