Originally Posted by HarryT
One of the purposes - perhaps the main purpose - of studying English literature is to gain knowledge of the shared cultural heritage which literature provides. Eg, Dickens and Shakespeare have both contributed enormously to the English language, and it's useful to know where those quotes and characters actually come from.
If the goal for a particular literature class is to examine the cultural influence of literature, there are many books that could be selected. I'd say that to really examine the cultural impact of literature, it would be a good idea to cover multiple books than to cover just one in depth. And not all of the books that have influenced culture are what most people would consider great literature.