Why Literature?

The study of literature provides an opportunity to examine the cultural values, questions and conflicts embodied in the literary achievements of human civilisations. The Literature major teaches students how to read and interpret texts from a broad range of cultural traditions and historical periods. The major builds on the unique linguistic diversity among students and faculty at Yale-NUS College. Students will cultivate the aesthetic, rhetorical and cultural literacy required to become cosmopolitan readers of the human experience. Expertise in attentive reading, effective writing, clear speaking, analytical skills and cross-cultural criticism are fundamental to a wide range of careers, including journalism, law, creative writing, web-development, finance, international relations and politics.

Through the study of literature, students will acquire several skills:

  • Aesthetic analysis: the ability to identify details in a text and relate them to the work as a whole.
  • Formulating arguments: the ability to craft debatable theses by using textual evidence appropriately, develop a confident authorial voice, and identify the appropriate audience for their writing.
  • Historical and cultural knowledge: the ability to identify, describe and contrast the major authors, conventions, trends, themes and texts in world literature.
  • Critical thinking: the ability to recognise, question and present alternatives to cultural assumptions, received ideas and normative values.
gerhard_richter_reader1Gerhard Richter, Lesende (Reader), 1994 [credit: Collection SFMOMA]