Literature is a word-based art form, usually a work of fiction. Works of literature include poems, plays, short stories, novels, and stories that are written down. Some are transcribed from oral tradition while many are original works of writing. Scholars and historians often categorize these works by language, genre, historical period, theme, and region.
There are several advantages to studying literature, notably the way it builds critical thinking skills and increases cultural awareness. Literature is a window into the human experience, allowing readers to visit places and understand events that may be inaccessible through other means. Reading stories and poems also is entertaining and provides a stress-reducing escape from the world around you.
Studying literature changes the way you view the world and yourself. When you read a novel set in another country or depicting customs from other cultures, you may discover similarities between these faraway places and your own neighborhood that help you make sense of cultural differences. A story may spark an interest in a specific topic that can lead to a new hobby or career. Analyzing the way writer’s use words builds your vocabulary and boosts your ability to look for patterns and trends—even outside the context of a story.
The communication and critical thinking skills you develop from studying literature can lead to a variety of career opportunities like a promotion or a job in a different field. Connecting with characters in a story develops empathy, an important skill for anyone who works in a management or supervisory role. Analyzing the use of language in a story can improve your own language and communication skills, which make you a better team member.
Online courses create an opportunity for you to study literature more deeply than you would by reading on your own. Knowing you have deadlines to meet motivates you to make reading a priority and increases the chance that you'll finish the story. You can choose a specific genre or theme to explore in-depth. The coursework of an online class may guide you to see different perspectives and ask questions that you may not otherwise consider.