This book presents new ways of thinking about the historical, epistemological and institutional role of literature, and aims at providing a theoretically well-founded basis for what might otherwise be considered a relatively unfounded historical fact, i.e. that both literature and the teaching of literature hold a privileged position in many educational institutions. The contributors take their point of departure in the title of the volume and use narratological, historical, cognitive, rhetorical, postcolonial and political frameworks to pursue two separate but not necessarily related questions: Why literature? and, Why study? This collection brings together theoretical studies and critical analyses on literature as a medium among, and compared to, other media and includes essays on the physical and mental geography of literature, focusing on the consequences and values of its reading and studying.