With the Modern Language Association (MLA) conference going on right now in Philadelphia, I notice that Inside Higher Ed quotes an MLA report on the importance of teaching literature to undergraduates:
Sustained, deep engagements with literary works and literary language open perceptions of structure, texture, and the layering of meanings that challenge superficial comprehension, expand understanding, and hone analytic skills,” the report says. “While we advocate incorporating into the [language] major the study of a variety of texts, we insist that the most beneficial among these are literary works, which offer their readers a rich and challenging — and therefore rewarding — object of study. Our cybernetic world has brought us speed and ease of information retrieval; even where the screen has replaced paper, however, language still remains the main mode of communication. Those who learn to read slowly and carefully and to write clearly and precisely will also acquire the nimbleness and visual perceptions associated with working in an electronic environment.