Does the formal/academic study of literature have value? A significant enough value to dedicate oneself to it as a professional scholar?
I'm studying comparative literature, myself, so that kind of shows my hand; but I'm curious to know your thoughts, /lit/.
Depends whether you mean in an ideal sense or for the average academic.
The average academic is a spiritless idealess null who has been poorly trained by inefficient repetition to play make-believe that his papers about Brecht's diarrhea years warrant a constant supply of grant money. But if we're talking about actual intellectuals, then yeah, furthering the human understanding of art (and history and other things) helps individuate the species and make it discover itself and all that.
Not him, but I believe there needs to be a certain degree of originality in the true intellectual. Rather than simply absorb literature and philosophy and keep it as a memorized codex of concepts, I think a real intellectual genuinely internalizes what she or he reads and tries to apply it to his or her own life, which involves a certain degree of creativity in fitting the ideas of great men into one's own particular circumstances.