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What is Literature?
Literature, in its broadest sense, consists of any
It refers to those deemed to have artistic or
intellectual value, or which deploy language in
ways that differ from ordinary usage.
In Western Europe prior to the eighteenth century,
literature as a term indicated all books and
writing. (Leitch et al., The Norton Anthology of
Theory and Criticism, 28)
What is Literature?
The value judgment definition of literature
considers it to cover exclusively those writings that
possess high quality or distinction, forming part of
the so-called Belles-lettres ('fine writing')
tradition. (Eagleton, Literary theory: an
This sort of definition is that used in the
Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition (1910–11)
where it classifies literature as:
"the best expression of the best thought
reduced to writing."
What is Literature?
Problematic in this view is that there is no
objective definition of what constitutes
Anything can be literature, and anything which is
universally regarded as literature has the potential
to be excluded, since value judgments can change
What is Genre?
is any category of literature, music, or other forms
of art or entertainment, whether written or
spoken, audio or visual, based on some set of
Genres form by conventions that change over time
as new genres are invented and the use of old ones
Often, works fit into multiple genres by way of
borrowing and recombining these conventions.
What is Genre?
Genre began as an absolute classification
system for ancient Greek literature.
Poetry, prose, and performance each had a
specific and calculated style that related
to the theme of the story.
There are 3 Genres of
is a form of literature that uses aesthetic and
rhythmic qualities of language.
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Poetry has 3 different kinds:
Narrative Poetry; and
Descriptive and Didactic
Is a comparatively short, non-narrative poem in which a single
speaker presents a state of mind or an emotional state.
It has 4 kinds:
Elegy - a poem of serious reflection, typically a lament for the
Ode - a poem in which a person expresses a strong feeling of love
or respect for someone or something.
Sonnet - a fourteen-line poem written in iambic pentameter,
which employ one of several rhyme schemes and adhere to a
tightly structured thematic organization.
Dramatic Monolouge - a poem in the form of a speech or narrative
by an imagined person, in which the speaker inadvertently reveals
aspects of their character while describing a particular situation or
series of events.
O Captain! My Captain!
My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor'd safe and sound, its voyage closed and
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
Ode on Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of
Early Childhood by William Wordsworth.
There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore;--
Turn wheresoe'er I may,
By night or day,
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.
Shall I compare thee to a summer's
Thou art more lovely and more
Rough winds do shake the darling
buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too
short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven
And often is his gold complexion
And every fair from fair sometime
By chance, or nature's changing course
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou
Nor shall death brag thou wander'st in
When in eternal lines to time thou
So long as men can breathe, or eyes
So long lives this, and this gives life to
Sonnet Number 18 by William Shakespeare
And indeed there will be time
To wonder, 'Do I dare?' and,
'Do I dare?'
Time to turn back and
descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the
middle of my hair--
(They will say: 'How his hair
is growing thin!')
My morning coat, my collar
mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest,
but asserted by a simple pin--
(They will say: 'But how his
arms and legs are thin!')
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions
which a minute will reverse.'
T.S. Eliot's The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock,
a form of poetry that tells a story, often making use of the
voices of a narrator and characters as well; the entire story
is usually written in metered verse.
It has 3 kinds:
Epics - A long narrative poem written in elevated style, in
which heroes of great historical or legendary importance
perform valorous deeds. (e.g. Beowulf)
Mock-epic - are typically satires or parodies that mock common
Classical stereotypes of heroes and heroic literature. (e.g
Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock)
Ballad - a poem or song narrating a story in short stanzas.
Traditional ballads are typically of unknown authorship, having
been passed on orally from one generation to the next as part
of the folk culture. (The Second Coming
William Butler Yeats (1865-1939))
Descriptive and Didactic Poetry
Both lyric and narrative poetry can contain
lengthy and detailed descriptions
(descriptive poetry) or scenes in direct
speech (dramatic poetry).
The purpose of a didactic poem is
primarily to teach something.
Light-winged Smoke, Icarian bird,
Melting thy pinions in thy upward flight,
Lark without song, and messenger of dawn,
Circling above the hamlets as thy nest;
Or else, departing dream, and shadowy form
Of midnight vision, gathering up thy skirts;
By night star-veiling, and by day
Darkening the light and blotting out the sun;
Go thou my incense upward from this hearth,
And ask the gods to pardon this clear flame.
'Tis hard to say, if greater Want of Skill
Appear in Writing or in Judging ill,
But, of the two, less dang'rous is th' Offence,
To tire our Patience, than mis-lead our Sense:
Some few in that, but Numbers err in this,
Ten Censure wrong for one who Writes amiss;
A Fool might once himself alone expose,
Now One in Verse makes many more in Prose.
An excerpt from An Essay on Criticism by
written or spoken language in its ordinary form, without
“The woods look lovely against the setting darkness and as I
gaze into the mysterious depths of the forest, I feel like
lingering here longer. However, I have pending
appointments to keep and much distance to cover before I
settle in for the night or else I will be late for all of them.”
There are 2 kinds of Prose:
Non - Fiction
Literature in the form of prose, especially short
stories and novels, that describes imaginary events
There are 2 kinds of Fiction literature:
Realistic Fiction - is a genre consisting of stories that
could have actually occurred to people or animals in
a believable setting.
Fantastic Fiction -a type of fiction that ideologically
and aesthetically subordinates reality to imagination
by depicting a world of marvels that is contrasted to
everyday reality and to accepted views of what is
Non – Fiction
Prose writing that is based on facts, real events, and real
people, such as biography or history.
There are 4 kinds of Non – fiction literature:
Biographies - is a detailed description of a person's life. It
involves more than just the basic facts like education, work,
relationships, and death, but also portrays a subject's
experience of these life events.
Autobiographies - is a written account of the life of a person
written by that person.
Essays - is, generally, a piece of writing that gives the author's
own argument — but the definition is vague, overlapping with
those of an article, a pamphlet, and a short story.
Articles - a piece of writing included with others in a
newspaper, magazine, or other publication.
Humour - situations, speech, or writings that are thought to be
a piece of writing that tells a story and is performed on a
Miranda Priestly: Do you know why I hired you? I always hire
the same girl- stylish, slender, of course... worships the
magazine. But so often, they turn out to be- I don't know-
disappointing and, um... stupid. So you, with that impressive
résumé and the big speech about your so-called work ethic- I,
um- I thought you would be different. I said to myself, go
ahead. Take a chance. Hire the smart, fat girl. I had hope. My
God. I live on it. Anyway, you ended up disappointing me more
than, um- more than any of the other silly girls.
- Meryl Streep (The Devil Wears Prada, 2006)
There are 6 kinds of Drama:
Comedies are lighter in tone than
ordinary writers, and provide a
happy conclusion. The intention of
dramatists in comedies is to make
their audience laugh. Hence, they
use quaint circumstances, unusual
characters and witty remarks.
Tragic dramas use darker
themes such as disaster, pain
and death. Protagonists often
have a tragic flaw—a
characteristic that leads them
to their downfall.
Generally, a farce is a nonsensical
genre of drama, which often
overacts or engages slapstick humor.
It’s basically, what you call a
Melodrama is an exaggerated
drama, which is sensational and
appeals directly to the senses
of audience. Just like the farce,
the characters are of single
dimension and simple, or may
It is a complete fictional work where
characters virtually display supernatural
skills. It is more appealing to children as
fairies, angels, superheroes, etc., are
embedded in the plot. Use of magic,
pseudo science, horror, and spooky themes
through various kinds of technical devices
create a perfect world of fantasy. The
modern version of drama incorporates a
great deal of special effects.
In musical drama, the dramatists not
only tell their story through acting
and dialogue, nevertheless through
dance as well as music. Often the
story may be comedic, though it
may also involve serious subjects.
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1. Autobiographies is a detailed
description of a person's life. It
involves more than just the basic facts
like education, work, relationships,
and death, but also portrays a
subject's experience of these life
2. Poetry is a written or spoken
language in its ordinary form, without
3. Elegy is a poem of light theme,
typically a lament for the dead.
4. Literature, in its broadest sense,
consists of any written productions.
5. Genre is any category of literature,
music, or other forms of art or
entertainment, whether written or
spoken, audio or visual, based on some
set of stylistic criteria