What is literature?
That may seem like an obvious question, but what counts as literature. Is it classic novels by Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and Thomas Hardy? Is it self-published erotica with werewolves, kinky vampires and hot billionaires?
Well, its both. Some may not agree and thats okay, but in theory Literaure is a set of texts. This counts as novels, plays, poetry, even the instructions for your microwave.
Its words and paragraphs and language.
Why do we Study Literature?
When we study literature we are looking for new meanings. We are looking for reasons why and how the text has been written the way it was. The author’s intention, means very little when it come to Literay Analysis.
When we analyse literature we consider
- The Genre: what is the usual practise in other novels in this category.
- language: what meanings can be derived
- other novels by the author
- the historical period that the novel was written in or makes reference to
- comparison of other works written at the same time and can decide whether the style of writing appears to follow the staus quo of that time
- review what assumptions we already have about the novel
- we seek the opinions of other readers
- evidence that supports your argument
Surely this has already been done by others?
Of course it has, but it hasnt been done by you. You have unique thoughts and feelings that could offer new insights into the novel. Each time a new generation reads classic literature, it has new meanings. thats what can make a novel canonical. It can transcend generations and still apply today as it did when it was first published.