What makes something literature? Does literature matter? What is Literature?

Expert Answers

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The term literature can refer to several types of writing: poetry, drama/theatre, fiction and non-fiction.

These forms of writing are distiguished from political, "technical" and "commercial" writing, forms that are intended to communicate information and to persuade to action. 

A term that is commonly asked about is "literary fiction": what distinguishes literary fiction from other types of fiction? 

The question, I think, comes from a desire to come to an understanding of the categories of fiction writing as much as it does from an interest in delineating the nature of literary fiction. 

Fiction comes in many forms and it often broken into these two broad categories:

  • Genre fiction (mystery novels, romance, westerns, fantasy, etc.)
  • Literary fiction

There is no firm line dividing these two broad categories, but literary fiction is seen as having artistic intentions which go beyond the desire to entertain. 

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