Learning About, Learning From

There is much to learn about literature. Great works yield data about human cultures, about history, society and politics, about language. The student or scholar can be a dispassionate anthropologist, scientist, or social historian of literature, seeking to acquire new knowledge.

We can also learn from literature, just as we learn from our parents, from past experiences, from those wiser than us. Literary study can encourage new encounters and exchanges that allow us to learn from others.

Learning about and from literature are not, and should not, be opposed stances. Educational settings encourage different emphases, but in such an intensely personal matter, it’s for each of us to choose our outlook on literature and its significance.

(inspired by a piece in memory of Kenneth W. Morgan)