What is the relationship between Essentialism and literature teaching?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Speaking in the broadest of philosophical contexts, I think that the teaching of literature in an Essentialist line of thought would stress to find how literature exerts an emphasis of the essential condition of being human.  This would find some level of root in Platonic philosophy, suggesting that there is an essence that underscores all human beings.  This is where the study of literature would be geared in the essentialist mode of thought.  Consider that the essentialist would believe "the claim that every organism has its origin."  This origin is what should be explored through literature.  Perhaps, the study of literature is to confirm this essence or origin that exists within individuals.  It might also be to explore how characters fail or denie their own essence when they fail to recognize it.  The essentialist claim in literature seeks to use the study of it to explore or advance the philosophical idea that there is an essence that underscores all human experience.  It is here where I think that the relationship between essentialism and the teaching of literature becomes the most pronounced and the most evident.