Because there is no hard and fast definition of literature, perhaps it is more beneficial to seek an analysis instead. The poet Shelley wanted to include some legislative statutes of parliaments under poetry because they created order and harmony out of disorder. Some works of literature are considered canonical, that is, culturally representative of a particular genre (poetry, prose, or drama). Literatue is a method of recording, preserving, and transmitting knowledge and entertainment. Would it be easier to ask �what isn't literature�? Having empathy for others leads people to socialize more effectively, solve conflicts peacefully, collaborate better in the workplace, behave morally, and possibly even become involved in making their community a better place. The most recent amendment to what constitutes literature is the inclusion of oral narratives. Initially published in freestanding essays across French literary journals Les Temps modernes, Situations I and Situations II, essays "What is Writing?" Terry Eagleton goes some way towards a definition of literature and its relationship to language: �Literature transforms and intensifies ordinary language, deviates systematically from everyday speech�. Students who study literature and read for pleasure have a higher vocabulary, better reading comprehension, and better communication skills, such as writing ability. Concepts of what is literature change over time as well. What may be considered ordinary and not worthy of comment in one time period may be considered literary genius in another. By the 1980s, there was a sense of inclusiveness (and relativism) in what was termed literary that ran alongside the inclusiveness of multiculturalism - anything could be literature, and attempts were made to dismantle distinctions between high and low culture. Literature amounts, in these matters, to the accumulated wisdom of the race, the sum of our reflections on our own existence. Communication skills affect people in every area of their lives, from navigating interpersonal relationships to participating in meetings in the workplace to drafting intraoffice memos or reports. The name has traditionally been applied to those imaginative works of poetry and prose distinguished by the intentions of their authors and the perceived aesthetic excellence of their execution. At the college or graduate level, English literature tends to refer to British literature. Just as architecture is the art form that arises out of the human ability to create buildings, literature is the art form that arises out of the human ability to create language. Esther Lombardi, M.A., is a journalist who has covered books and literature for over twenty years. Some definitions also separate literary fiction from so-called "genre fiction," which includes types such as mystery, science fiction, western, romance, thriller, and horror. The term also implies literary quality and distinction. There is recurring agreement amongst theorists though that for a work to be called literature must display excellence in form and style. What makes us treat something as literature? Literature is as literature does. It takes research skills to dig up evidence for their thesis from the text and scholarly criticism, and it takes organizational skills to present their argument in a coherent, cohesive manner. Generally, most people have their own ideas of what literature is. From the writings of ancient civilizations such as Egypt and China to Greek philosophy and poetry, from the epics of Homer to the plays of William Shakespeare, from Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte to Maya Angelou, works of literature give insight and context to all the world's societies. (French: Qu'est-ce que la littérature? Literature is the creation of another world, a world that we can only see through reading literature. Literature definition is - writings in prose or verse; especially : writings having excellence of form or expression and expressing ideas of permanent or universal interest. As a student or … Initial reviews of Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights in 1847 were less than spectacular, however, Wuthering Heights is now considered one of the greatest literary achievements of all time. These standards are also applied to non-fiction, such as auto/biography and philosophy. Subjectivism, as the term implies, means that all theories of literary value are subjective, and that literary evaluation is a purely personal matter. Literary fiction involves getting into the minds of the characters (or at least the protagonist) and experiencing their relationships with others. Agnosticism follows from subjectivism, though it argues that though there may be real distinctions in literary value, our subjective value systems prevent us from knowing anything about the real values. In exploring ideas about what literature is, it is useful to look at some of the things that literature does. Similarly, you might expect everything by a known author to be literature, even though the quality of that author's work may vary from publication to publication.  Lit is … creative writing of recognized artistic value  Written works, esp. What may be considered ordinary and not worthy of comment in one time period may be considered literary genius in another. Here are some quotes about literature from literature giants themselves. What purposes does literature serve? Oxford: Blackwell Publishers Inc., 1996. Literature is a term used to describe written and sometimes spoken material. The poet Shelley wanted to include some legislative statutes of parliaments under poetry because they created order and harmony out of disorder. Literature is something that reflects society, makes us think about ourselves and our society, allows us to enjoy language and beauty, it can be didactic, and it reflects on �the human condition�. For many, the word literature suggests a higher art form; merely putting words on a page doesn't necessarily equate to creating literature. Literature comes from the Latin word "litera" which means "acquainted with letters." Does it really matter what �literature� is? What distinguishes literature from non-literary works? At the risk of waxing metaphysical, one might argue that literature, like any artifact, has both a Platonic form and an Aristotelian concreteness. This list is not an exhaustive list though. In fact, the only thing that is certain about defining literature is that the definition will change. Literature is written information produced by people who want to sell you something or give you advice. At a dinner party you would be swiftly corrected if you referred to Mills & Boon as literature. (The difference in type does not mean that literary writers are better than genre fiction writers, just that they operate differently.). Ultimately, we may discover meaning in literature by looking at what the author writes or says and how he or she says it. Biography of Herman Melville, American Novelist. In exploring ideas about what literature is, it is useful to look at some of the things that literature does. As a classification, it doesn't really have any firm boundary lines. This inclusion hasn't been without debate. Definitions of literature change because they describe and clarify a reality, they do not create the reality they describe. By reading "Moby Dick" in the present day, we can gain a fuller understanding of literary traditions in Melville's time. This inclusion hasn't been without debate. Just as architecture is the art form that arises out of the human ability to create buildings, literature is the art form that arises out of the human ability to create language. Eagleton, Terry. ThoughtCo uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. Students who read literature can find solace as they realize that others have gone through the same things that they are experiencing or have experienced. and "Why Write?" For instance, Herman Melville's 1851 novel "Moby Dick" was considered a failure by contemporary reviewers. Literature definition: Novels, plays, and poetry are referred to as literature , especially when they are... | Meaning, pronunciation, translations and examples The common definition of literature, particularly for university courses, is that it covers the major genres of poetry, drama, and novel/fiction. This can be a catharsis and relief to them if they feel burdened or alone in their troubles. Some have or are given more value than others. While in high school and general usage, English literature often refers to any … Literature reviews are a form of academic writing commonly used in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities. “Literary” does not refer to “what is expressed, what is invented, in whatever form,” and literature does not encompass every book that comes down the pike, however smart or well-made.