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The Functions of Literature


Literature reflects the various experiences, ideas, passions of human beings in their daily life that express on several forms and styles of literary works. Since literature directly derives from human life, it can increase our knowledge and experiences about human problems included values, morals, cultures, and human interests.
After reading a literary work, the readers may get a certain impression of what he/she has read.

Literature as a product of human culture has its own functions. Literature has two functions. The first is literature of power. Literature of power means that the function of literature as power is to move the heart and mind of the readers. The second is literature of knowledge. Literature of knowledge has function to teach. It means that literature gives particular values, messages, and themes to the readers.

Literature has great function in developing human’s feelings, ideas, and interests. Generally, the functions of literature are as follows: the first function is literature gives knowledge of those particularities with which science and philosophy are not concerned. The second function is that literature makes the human perceive what human see, imagine what human already know conceptually or practically. The final function of literature is that literature relieve human—either writers or readers—from the pressure of emotions.

Literature also functions to contribute values of human lives. In education program, literature may give significant contribution for students’ development and knowledge. The contribution of literature in education covers intrinsic values and extrinsic values. The intrinsic values are the reward of a lifetime of wide reading recognizable in the truly literate person while the intrinsic values facilitate the development of language skills and knowledge.

Many literary texts such as poem, song lyric, and short story are used in language teaching. There are some factors of using literature in language teaching in terms of linguistic, cultural, and personal growth. Linguistically, literary texts offer a range of genuine texts in a variety of registers, styles, and text-types at many level of difficulty. Literary texts provide a very real sense the vehicle for culture. The settings, characterizations, situations, and assumptions which literary texts embody offer the students with manifold opportunities for raising awareness of difference and for developing tolerance and understanding. Finally, literature provides affect and emotion. When the students interact with a literary text, it usually involves a deeper level of mental processing, a greater personal involvement and response. In this case, students also learnt a lot about reading critically, emphatically, and creatively.

Therefore, because of its functions and contributions of literature in language teaching, literature is used as an innovative technique of teaching and even some institutions of education design a literature program and put the literature as compulsory subject.
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