The Importance of Learning the Classics

Is it important to learn about classic literature to better understand contemporary writing?

  • I think this a great start for a topic! Maybe you could refine the topic a little by pointing to specific classics that are commonly assigned in secondary education? For example, To Kill a Mockingbird, Great Expectations, etc. I think that specific examples would definitely focus the article more and add to its impact. – Opaline 7 years ago
  • Learning the basic nature of Classic Literature has always had a high importance, but there are stories that can be substituted. This might be something you'd want to explore as you're researching, such as what books might be able to replace, for example, A Tale of Two Cities in terms of having the same themes; so perhaps finding a more modern novel with themes of doppelgangers, unrequited love, and so on. I believe this is how new classics are born as time goes on and the classics we have now become more like the tales of Chaucer - simply something we skim over once or twice through secondary school or university. – Steven Gonzales 7 years ago
  • I'm so glad there are more voices for this! I've taught college and high school, and I lose sleep over the push to leave Classic Literature to electives and Humanities rather than retaining it as part of a general education requirement. Yes, there are some we can substitute, but why? I don't believe that anything contemporary has the same academic or historical value. The emphasis on language and prose style is often only evident in older works. I would love to see how many of the most successful writers were influenced by the classics. A lot of the best novels out there have hints of classic works - prose, themes, conflicts and unique premises. To understand contemporary works, it would help to read the works that influenced their authors. – wtardieu 7 years ago
  • Classics can be very Euro-centric. The more balanced approach of examining literature with classical themes would make a more relevant article. Such as looking at famous love stories, changing circumstances in life and qualities about human nature. I think it is worth giving this topic another analysis but framing it with classical world literature. – Munjeera 7 years ago
  • I began my writing journey after several writing courses during college. I earned stellar commentary from my classmates and the professor. But, it wasn't until I started to revisit the writing of Shakespeare (which I dreaded in high school), the Greek myths (which always fascinated me), and science-fiction (H.G. Wells, Arthur C. Clarke) that my inner voice resurfaced. The best place to begin testing personal writing ability is in the poetry and narratives of the great ones. It is the proving grounds for the imminent author or the hesitant observer. – lofreire 7 years ago
  • I think that the "classics" are classics for a reason, but the canon of classic literature mostly excludes women, people of colour, and non-European/American literature, which is a huge problem. It might be interesting to examine how the canon of classic literature is being (rightfully) challenged by scholars who are inserting frequently underrepresented narratives and texts back into literary history. So, yes, I think people should read classics that interest them, but prioritize expanding their horizons. – Kristen 7 years ago

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