What is Literature? – The question may seem elementary, but in reality it is a very knotty subject, which can be defined as an attempt to unify the whole of human knowledge into a single framework. Literature is the only true means by which an infinite number of human literatures can beologies and, even if the idea of a literary modernism seems heretical, it is simply because such an attempt fails to take into account all the dimensions of literature.
Literature in the broad sense of the term is nearly as old as civilization itself. In fact, literary works have been found on ancient monuments as well as on the artifacts of other ancient civilizations, including Assyria, Egypt, Chaldea, Greece, Rome, and Egypt. Literature is generally accepted as any collection of literary work, though sometimes it is also usefully used more specifically for texts specifically described as an artistic form, most commonly drama, prose, and poetry, although it has also extended to non-literature, in terms of architecture, illustrations, pictures, sculpture, and music. In recent years, the accepted definition of literature has broadened significantly, including non-literal, non-thematic, and hybrid forms of literary expression.
What constitutes literature is a highly contested topic, because it involves so many different types of literary texts, and since no two literatures are exactly alike. When thinking about literature, two broad questions should be considered: what literatures exist that might qualify as literature, and what literatures are recognized as literature by other societies and cultures. Literature, in general, represents a diversity of literary genres, including narrative, lyric, dramatic, philosophical, or non-narrative texts. The first two literary genres, narrative and dramatic, are the oldest genres of literature; while the third, philosophy, is relatively new. All other forms of literature are derived from one or more of the above three major literary genres.
The question of what is literature has often been asked since the advent of mass print, which dramatically expanded the range of available literature, with significant effects on the way that literature was perceived and discussed, both in the written and spoken word. Although print media has greatly expanded the size and scope of what is available to the public, the boundaries of what is literature have not been necessarily blurred. Some texts, such as popular magazines, have always been classed as literature and have been recognized as such by other cultures and societies. In recent years, however, new written materials, such as the Web, have provided the means for literature to spread throughout the world even more rapidly and extensively than ever before. As previously stated, most literature is produced within a literary community or subculture, and as such is recognized as literary text by the readers of a particular subculture or society. A very popular literary subculture is that of the twenty-first century American generation, which tends to regard itself as having engaged in a lifelong engagement in literature of all kinds.
So, what is literature? It has been argued that literature includes all written matter that originated during the period of European history and that has been published or made into print for the consumption of the people in that particular era. Literature can include any written matter, regardless of its format or medium. So long as it has been produced and made available to the consuming public, it is literature. One could say that the literary text is any written matter that can be considered suitable for being read by people and is read by the public.
In the late nineteenth century, after the rise of mass printing and the Industrial Revolution, a trend emerged for new works to be produced that were aimed at making reading more accessible to a wider audience. This new demand for literature led to an expansion of the forms of literary production that occurred throughout the late eighteen hundreds and the early nineteenth century. Prior to this period, literature consisted mainly of printed matter, which had the limited objective of informing the reader. With the proliferation of novels and pamphlets that were aimed at imparting information, as well as dramatic works, literature experienced a new and larger scope.
During the late nineteenth century, after the Printing House started publishing books, a new set of literary devices began to appear that was unprecedented in its scale and variety. The most commonly used literary devices during the late nineteenth century were: the use of language, images, action, descriptive words, and narrative device. These features of literature developed gradually and significantly, until they reached a level of perfection that is not yet matched to today.
The term “Literature” is often used incorrectly by most American literary scholars. It is important to note that although the use of” Literature” has a wide range of meaning depending upon the point of view from which one identifies it, American literature is vastly diverse and there are multiple genres of literary fiction and non-fiction that have been developed in response to changing social conditions throughout the nation’s history. What is Literature is an ambiguous term that is not understood by most American literary scholars. The word literature should instead be seen as a term open to interpretation by the reader and scholars alike.