People have different ideas about what body of work "literature" encompasses. Works of literature are usually expected to be exemplary works of art with profound things to say about the human experience; however, for some, the definition of literature is broadening. For classicists, the literary canon is comprised of works that have been considered "great" for an extremely long time, e.g. Shakespeare's Hamlet or Dante's Inferno. Admittedly, these types of texts are amazing works of art. However, there is the glaring fact that most if not all traditionally canonical texts are written by DWEGs (dead white European guys); they don't really include the creative genius represented by female authors, authors of color, or any contemporary writers.
More inclusive academics (which I would argue represent the current majority) include literature from a broader source--world authors, authors of many races, gender identities and time periods. However, standards still exist for the selection of these texts. Books that win major prizes or recognition from a prestigious source have a better chance of being considered literature rather than "beach reads." Also, innovation in style, complexity in plot and characters, and depth in the thematic messages of a text are also desired traits in texts we know as literature.
Some very open minded scholars consider literature to be in the mind of the beholder, and expand their definition of literary texts to include anything that can be examined or studied, from Charles Dickens to family snapshots to political speeches to YouTube videos. They essentially throw idea of a canon out the window. This approach allows scholars to examine the way messages are created and portrayed in a more versatile way, as well as to look for meaning in unexpected places. However, it's definitely an alternative view of what literature means.
Literature study can be the study of "literature" according to any of these three approaches, but it always means examining a text, forming opinions about it, extracting meaning from it, learning about its context, and sharing ideas about it with others.