English for Literary Work Essay

1725 Words Mar 2nd, 2015 7 Pages
Definition: 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.
Generally, most people have their own ideas of what literature is. When enrolling in a literary course at university, you expect that everything on the reading list will be “literature”. 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
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There is also general agreement that literature foregrounds language, and uses it in artistic ways. 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”. 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.
The common definition of literature, particularly for university courses, is that it covers the major genres of poetry, drama, and novel/fiction. The term also implies literary quality and distinction. This is a fairly basic view of literature because, as mentioned in the introduction, the meaning of the term has undergone changes, and will no doubt continue to do so. Most contemporary literary histories show a shift from the belles-lettrestradition, which was concerned with finding beauty, an elevated use of language, emotional effects and moral sentiments before something could be called literature.
The three main ways of approaching a definition of literature are relativism, subjectivism and agnosticism. With relativism, there are no value distinctions in literature; anything may be called good literature. Subjectivism, as the term implies, means that all theories of literary value are subjective,

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