Leaving the Literary Past Behind

The importance and timelessness of literature is currently being overlooked in some universities. As these schools try to redevelop themselves to fit a modern age, they focus too much on the contemporary and not enough on the classics.

According to Ashley Thorne of The Guardian, this trend is a detriment to the time-honored tradition of the “summer reading assignment.” This practice ensures that the entire student body has something in common to share and discuss.

Rebecca Skloot was one of the “top common reading authors” last year.

The Effect on Students

There is nothing inherently wrong with the use of contemporary literature in universities. However, Thorne believes that the unwillingness of schools to assign literature pre-dating 1990 fails to challenge and engage students beyond their own bubble. In addition, the importance of recent works is often dependent on the knowledge of previous works. Students lose the significance of the social issues being presented when they are unaware of their history.

The Omnivore’s Dilemma is commonly chosen for its “trendy themes.”

The Reason for Modernized Literature

The two prevailing explanation for this trend are accessibility and relevance. Universities seem to think that the subjects in modern literature are better understood by today’s college students. Moreover, the authors are capable of giving on-campus lectures regarding their own works. However, is that enough to abandon the great words of the past?

Universities are in an era where tradition is in a tug-of-war with a new age, further complicated by the explosion of information that students can access through current technologies. Colleges should not abandon tradition in favor of the future. Tradition should be the basis for such visions of progress.

Nathan Repp is a writer for Scholar Hero, Inc.