What Is Literature?

What Is Literature?

What is literature? Why do we read it? Why is literature important?

Literature is a term used to describe written or spoken material. Broadly speaking, "literature" is used to describe anything from creative writing to more technical or scientific works, but the term is most commonly used to refer to works of the creative imagination, including works of poetry, drama, fiction, and nonfiction.

Why do we read literature?

Literature represents a language or a people: culture and tradition. But, literature is more important than just a historical or cultural artifact. Literature introduces us to new worlds of experience. We learn about books and literature; we enjoy the comedies and the tragedies of poems, stories, and plays; and we may even grow and evolve through our literary journey with books.

Ultimately, we may discover meaning in literature by looking at what the author says and how he/she says it.

What is Literature?
Or, There Is No Essential, Inherent Category of the "Literary."

(A paraphrase, summary, and adaptation of the opening chapter of Terry
Eagleton's Introduction to Literary Theory)

Have you ever felt ashamed or secretive about books you like because they
are not on approved reading lists? Have you ever had a teacher, friend, or
parent tell you that what you are reading isn't "literature," that it may have
words printed on a page, but it is somehow inferior in quality to other books?
That is, it might be "literature" in the broad sense of the term (words on a
page) but it's not "literary"?

Well, the problem with such judgments is that if you press someone about her
definition of "literature" or "literariness," she will have a hard time finding a
criteria that works for everything we have ever called literature. Although
many have tried to define what "literature" is or what makes something
"literary," no one has successfully defined literature in such a way that it
accounts for the complexities of language and...

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