Understanding Literature may seem to be a daunting task but once you start engaging with the subject, it becomes a fruitful exercise. It enhances our understanding of human nature and society in general. Some works of Literature remain new even today, as their ideas transcend the era in which they were written.
It teaches us to analyze the text and look at it through a perspective, say, if you read a book through a Postcolonial or a Marxist Perspective, it reveals the hidden power relations in a society. You do not simply study about black and white shades, but rather get introduced to various colours of interpretation between them. Your cognitive abilities are modelled to think critically, untangling the meaning of every thread.
Now, the question arises- How do you deal with the subject? Every student follows a different pattern when it comes to studying, but here are certain points to be kept in mind.
1. Critical Reading
It is very important to read the text. Reading the summary from Sparknotes or any other website is fruitless, as they tend to give you a general overview of the text. As a Literature student, read between the lines and analyze. Provide a critical commentary for the text you have read.
The curtains are never just blue. Understand?
2. Avoid Plagiarism
One of the deadly sins of Literature is copying other person’s work and representing it as your own. Originality is appreciated, as it makes you to express your stance on a particular topic. Internet provides a lot of articles these days, so make sure that you question all of them, rather than simply copying. Instead of procrastinating, start examining whatever reading materials you come across, while writing an essay. Maintaining the integrity of your academic paper is important.
3. Do not use jumbled sentences
Instead of using sentences which are obscure, it is better to use simple sentences to convey the meaning. Make sure that you check the sentence structure. Do not fit all the words in a single sentence. Break it down. State your points with clarity. Effective communication is possible through brevity.
Avoid Sesquipedalian loquaciousness and voluminously high class nonsensicalism.
4. Examine the Literary Terms
It is important to be familiar with literary terms such as Metaphor, Alliteration, Synecdoche, Dramatic Irony, Monologue and so on. Making yourself aware of some of these key terms will provide a better understanding of the text. The terms also add to the structure and form of the text and influence the content. When it comes to poetry, they play a major role in bringing out the desired effect.
5. Make Notes
Pay attention to the lectures by your professors. You cannot remember everything that the professor has said, so it is important to jot it down for future reference. While taking notes during the lecture, use phrases instead of full sentences. It is a perfect way of staying focused in class. Review your notes regularly. When you prepare your notes in an organized manner, it gets easy when you revise them during exams.
6. Re-read and re-re-read your text
It is important to read and analyze the text more than once as it brings out a new colouring after every reading. Sometimes, the author uses a different set of words to describe something familiar. This can be confusing, but looking at the footnotes and glossary can help you to perceive the intended meaning of the text. Using quotations or important statements made by the characters in the text help in justifying your arguments. Reading is fun, isn’t it?
Thinking critically is the most important skill for success. When? Where? What? Who? Why? Do you employ all of them while reading a work of Literature? It might be a good idea to follow the above points to make some difference in the way you perceive things.
“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.”
-J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye
Have you ever thought of this?