Literature is a Window

As this semester rushes forward, and though I fully recognize that it’s only the first month of my first year, I have had numerous ups and downs, revelations and un-revelations, regarding my sense of security in my major. I feel as though I have gone through so many of the motions already: is this the best place for me, should I be putting my efforts into something with more external purpose, is this all just a waste of time? I have spent many a night, face down on my pillow, thinking to myself that majoring in English “could only be for” future teachers or the well-off, who are able to afford to simply study what interests them regardless of potential career options. I fall into neither of these categories.

Sorting through the layers of these questions and concerns, one alone has the capacity to encompass the rest: what am I doing here?

As unlikely as it may seem, I was reminded of the answer to that while reading Joe Moran’s second chapter in Interdisciplinarity. During his discussion of literature and culture, Moran explores the efforts of Richard Hoggart in developing cultural studies. Hoggart, at one point, was known for saying that “literature is uniquely concerned with the total human response,” and can therefore provide understanding and perspective across various and differing aspects of life (Moran 50).

Hoggart’s assertion settled inside my conscious, providing me with my final answer to my self-posed question: I am here because literature has always been my window.

Reading, analysis, and all other facets of literature have deeply enriched my own worldly perspective by exposing me to other, at times contrary, perspectives in a captivating and stimulating way. I have been able to enter a world, and walk in the shoes of all types of characters, through all types of landscapes and circumstances, taking a piece of each one with me upon my exit. Literature has also been a trove for the ideas and messages in the midst of nearly every historical event; it is a kind of archive, although oftentimes through a fictional lens. The value that lies in that is immeasurable.

While I have what seems like a very long college career ahead of me, I know that it will in fact prove to be very short as I continue to sort out and find my direction in my education as well as life. Regardless of how I navigate the future of my education, I will always hold onto the respect and appreciation that I possess for English literary studies for cultivating in me a conscious and responsible individual. That is why I believe I am indeed where I need to be.

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