An illustration of the first paper to come off the printing press.
These days, many of us are scrambling for our smartphones to read tweets and newsfeeds before we even get out of bed. It's safe to say that in the information age, almost everyone's a reader. Although it's good to stay informed, how much of the "information" most people spend their time reading is actually enriching?
Liberal arts students know that devoting reading time to classic literature is worth it. The internet is an amazing resource, and many of today's authors produce great books—but in the end, nothing can compare to the timeless wisdom the classics have to offer.
Read on for a few examples of how, even after hundreds of years, classic literature has remained relevant to today’s liberal arts students.
Classic Literature Increases Vocabulary
In the era of text messaging, where much of what we type is abbreviated, it's easy to forget the importance of having a big vocabulary. Speaking and writing in a way that reflects intelligence has a positive impact on schoolwork, giving presentations, making an impression in a job interview and much more.
Reading the Greek and Latin classics can especially help develop the vocabulary, since a majority of English words are derived from these two languages. When it comes to increasing vocabulary size, no one is at more of an advantage than students of a great books college, who read Classical Greek texts like The Iliad and The Odyssey in their courses!
Classic Literature Challenges the Mind and Builds Intelligence
Reading classic lit. is one of the few forms of entertainment these days that isn't mindless. Students at small liberal arts colleges know that reading is actually one of the best ways to improve intelligence, and there are plenty of studies to back that up.
Research shows that closely reading Jane Austen, for example, can push our cognitive functioning further than solving a difficult math problem. If you're considering enrolling at a liberal arts college, studying the work of some of the greatest minds in history will not only build your knowledge base, it will help develop your ability to think for yourself!
Classic Literature Affects Modern Media and Culture
One of the biggest ways that classic lit. has stayed relevant is through the film industry. Whether the book was better is a matter of opinion, but many films based on classic titles have received rave reviews. From Gone With the Wind, to The Great Gatsby, to Dracula, classics are always being remade to appear on screen for our enjoyment.
Students from a liberal arts college in Chicago may know that classic literature even permeates the way we speak today. Common phrases like “wear one’s heart on one’s sleeve,” “eat out of house and home,” and “break the ice” were originally penned by Shakespeare, some 400 years ago. If these don't ring a bell, he also invented many words, such as: "dwindle,” "addiction," “impartial,” “lonely,” “majestic,” and “suspicious.”
In fact, Shakespeare even created many of most common names today. Would you happen to know an Olivia, Miranda or Jessica? Next time you bump into them, ask them if they know which play their name is from!
Can you name any other ways that classic literature has stayed relevant?