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What Literature Does


People often ask why anyone (I think they mean me) would teach English. They imply that nothing could be less useful in the real world. I disagree.

Here’s my philosophy of literature:

Literature is not practical. It doesn’t tell you how to repair a computer, build a bookcase, or change a tire. What it does do, however, is far more powerful. Literature takes you out of yourself, provides transcendent experiences that give a taste of what might be. And it takes you into yourself, helps you to process the events of your own life, to produce your own narratives.

I believe in the notion that literature — our attempts to make sense of the world through story — is a form of truth-seeking and truth-telling that draws us ever closer to relationship with each other, with creation, with our Creator. We find in story — all stories — attempts to answer these questions: Who are we? Why are we here? How ought we to live? And we find in each story reflections of the STORY: relationship, rejection, redemption, and reunion.

Who are we? Why are we here? How ought we to live?

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