Up to Snuff #133: What is Literature?

By, Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu

When looking at literature and qualifying writings or looking generally for “literariness,” what is literature?

What often qualifies as literature is the use of formal elements such as literary devices.  It may appear that it was made for teaching or exemplifying in its use of literary device, such as that of Shakespeare and the example of alliteration.  Another trait that literature has is its attention to its own form, a kind of “self- consciousness.”  Literature is said to be something then, that is meant to be read closely.  It is also something meant to be “laboriously analyzed.”  Text is said to me made of “forms, words and devices.”  Literature is meant for a closeness that is necessary for understanding.  Literature is supposed to be what makes great text.  All of the elements are supposed to work together to make its text whole.  Comparison in literature is supposed to measure up to literary canon.  Where the canon is what has been accepted as great literature, and is as solemn, principled, or holy as “bread and wine.”  Canon was meant to raise the bar and create a standard.  It may come from the old medieval war cannons and the idea of “living under rule.” 

Works cited:

Lit 200 Module Two Lecture Notes, Southern New Hampshire University, 2021

Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition

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