Literature Promotes Insight

I firmly believe that literature is a guide to how other people think, an insight into how other minds differ from yours. I recommend to my business students that they take classes in art, science and literature. Business courses prepare you for business problems. Liberal arts prepare you to live a life of meaning and purpose.


Of course, my students don’t read enough. Oh, they do, if you count their social media and the powerpoints they see in class but real reading is tackling college level text for more than five minutes. That kind of reading develops brain power, and according to the study here referenced, an enhanced ability to empathize and understand others.


James Pilant


Statue, Tomsk. "Anton Pavlovich in Tomsk—...
Statue, Tomsk. “Anton Pavlovich in Tomsk—drunkard’s view, lying in a ditch, who never read Kashtanka” Print issues, Siberia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Jonathan Franzen can help you read people –


Beach reading season is over, so it’s time to plunge into some serious fiction. But if the idea of plowing through a Pynchon feels a bit too much like work, here’s a piece of news that may inspire you: Doing so may help you better discern the beliefs, motivations, and emotions of those around you.That’s the conclusion of a just-published study by two scholars from the New School for Social Research in New York. David Comer Kidd and Emanuele Castano report that reading literature uniquely boosts “the capacity to identify and understand others’ subjective states.”Literary fiction, they note in the journal Science, “uniquely engages the psychological processes needed to gain access to characters’ subjective experiences.” Unlike most popular fiction, which “tends to portray the world and its characters as internally consistent and predictable,” these works require readers to contend with complex, sometimes contradictory characters.According to Kidd and Castano, this sort of active engagement increases our ability to understand and appreciate the similarly complicated people we come across in real life.The researchers provide evidence for their thesis in the form of five experiments, all of which were conducted online. In the first, the 86 participants read either a short literary work (by Chekhov, Don DeLillo, or …


(Please visit the web site and read the whole article! jp)


via Jonathan Franzen can help you read people –


From around the web.


From the web site, Stephanie’s Wicked Awesome Words.


The great writers of the classics were masters in their craft. They
knew how to write well and effectively, and how to compose pieces that
would continue to instill wisdom centuries into the future. In other
subjects, such as chemistry, calculus, and history, students study those
people who were masters in these fields. They concentrate on gleaning
knowledge from those who were the most accomplished and had the most to
offer. Why should literature study be any different? Although YA
literature is a good device to get children interested in reading, it
should not be the main focus of study in the classroom. In general, YA
literature does not have the universal appeal or level of skill that
classic literature does. That would be equivalent to history teachers
teaching their students only about the lives of ordinary people rather
than those of people like Napoleon, Washington, or King, Jr. That would
be equivalent to chemistry teachers teaching their students only about
experiments conducted in high school labs, and not about scientists and
discoveries that have changed the world. Classic literature has a place
in the classroom, one that should be revered and never substitued with
work that is simply mediocre.


From the web site, Writings by Abhishek.


Tim Gillespie in one of his essays to ‘The English Journal’ says, “We
rightly worry that many youngsters lives are circumscribed by poverty,
discrimination, low expectations, cultural insularity, and other
conditions that may render them unable to see beyond the limits of their
immediate horizons. Literature does offer-inexpensively-a vision of
other lives and other vistas. One of its potential benefits is to
enlarge a reader’s sense about the many possible ways to live. This
enlarged sense seems to me an important part of our traditional national
ethos. Hope for a better world and belief in the possibility of
re-making oneself or improving one’s situation breed optimism and elbow
grease. We have rich testimony of this imaginative function of
literature. ”

The ability of literature to provoke its reader to imagine is
generalized in the above sentences. What I mean to say is that
literature of any kind has a generalized power to make the reader
imagine things. Of course, Tim throws more light on living life in
various ways and imagining situations that one cannot experience but
literature of any kind, whether a science textbook or a novel makes the
reader to imagine. This power of imagination deepens the intellectual
quotient of a person.


“The tale’s the thing, for every generation”