The major and minor in English at the University of California, Merced, ask students to recognize the complex interactions of culture and literature. Literature and literary criticism are significant parts of an age-old, continuing conversation about the meaning and value of human society. So we think about the way artists and thinkers across centuries have used literature to ask big questions, tell stories and create beauty.
The study of literature enables one to engage these conversations richly, both for personal development and for the ability it gives one to be a responsible agent in the many societies each person inhabits.
Moreover, literary study gives one insight into how cultures operate in such a way as to facilitate ethical cross-cultural interactions. Literary study facilitates such agency by teaching readers how to understand — an understanding that engages intellectual, ethical and aesthetic faculties — and then critique literary artifacts.