Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 35



Genre Definition
Genre means the type of art, literature or music characterized by a specific
form, content and style. For example, literature has four main genres;
poetry, drama, fiction and non-fiction. All of these genres have particular
features and functions that distinguish them from one another. Hence, it is
necessary on the part of readers to know which category of genre they are
reading in order to understand the message it conveys, as they may have
certain expectations prior to the reading concerned.
Types of Genre

There are five types of genres in literature, which include:


Poetry is the first major literary genre. All types of poetry share specific
characteristics. In fact, poetry is a form of text that follows
a meter and rhythm with each lines and syllables. It is further subdivided into
different genres such an epic poem, narrative, romantic, dramatic, and lyric.
Dramatic poetry includesmelodrama, tragedy and comedy, while other poems
includes ode, sonnet, elegy, ballad, song and epics. Popular examples of epic
poems are Paradise Lost by John Milton, The Iliad and The Odyssey by
Homer and romantic poem includes, Red Red Rose by Robert Burns etc. All
these poetic forms share specific features such as they do not follow
paragraphs or sentences; they use stanzas and lines instead. Some forms
follow very strict rules of length and number of stanzas and lines such
as villanelle, sonnet and haiku etc. while some may be free like a

free verse poem Feelings, Now by Katherine Foreman that is devoid of any
regular meter and rhyme scheme. Besides that, often poetry usesfigurative
language like metaphor, simile, onomatopoeia, hyperbole, and alliteration, etc. to

create heightened effects.


Drama is a form of text that is performed in front of an audience. It is also

called a play. Its written text contains dialogues, and stage directions. This
genre has further categories such as comedy, tragedy,tragicomedy etc.
William Shakespeare is known as the father of English drama. His well-known
plays include Taming of the Shrew, Romeo & Juliet and Hamlet, while Greek
playwrights were the pioneers in this field such as Sophocles masterpiece
is Oedipus Rex and Antigone, while modern dramas includeDeath of a
Salesman by Arthur Miller etc.

It is a kind of written text different from poetry in that it has complete

sentences organized into paragraphs. Unlike poetry, prose focuses on
characters and plot than focusing on sounds. It includes short stories and
novels, while fiction and non-fiction are its sub genres. Prose is further
categorized into essays, speeches, sermons and interpretations.

Fiction has three categories that are, realistic, non-realistic and semi-fiction.
Usually, fiction work is not real and therefore, authors can use complex
figurative language to touch readers imagination. Unlike poetry, it is more
structured, follows proper grammatical pattern and correct mechanics. A
fictional work may incorporate fantastical and imaginary ideas from everyday

life. It comprises some important elements such as

plot, exposition, foreshadowing, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution.
The popular examples of literary fiction include, James Joyces novel A
Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, CharlesDickens A Tale of Two Cities,
Jane Austens Pride and Prejudice, and Harper Lees To Kill a Mockingbird,

Non-fiction is a vast category that also has sub-genres; it could be creative

like personal essay, and factual like scientific paper. It may also use figurative
language, however, not abundantly like poetry, or fiction has. Sometimes, it
may tell a story like autobiography, or sometimes it may convey the information
to the readers. Other examples of non-fiction include biographies, diaries,
memoirs, journals, fantasies, mysteries and romances. The popular example
of non-fiction genre is Michael Pollans highly celebrated book, The
Omnivores Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, which is an account
about eating habits of Americans.
Function of Genre

Depending upon their types, different genres have different roles. For
example, fiction and dramatic genres help students and writers learn and
improve their communication skills. A poetic genre, on the other hand,
enhances imaginative and emotional power of the readers. Non-fictional texts
and essays help readers develop analytical and persuasive capabilities.
However, the major function of genre is to establish a code of behavior
between the writers and audience, and keep the readers informed about the
topics discussed or the themes presented.


What Is a Genre?
Ever have a friend suggest a movie to go see, but you responded, 'I'm not in the mood for that?'
What did you mean? Was it a scary movie and you were in the mood to laugh? Was it a sad movie,
but you wanted some action? If so, then you already know about genres.
A genre is a broad term that translates from the French to mean 'kind' or 'type.' In entertainment, this
can translate to horror, romance, science fiction, etc. In general, these types differ for all sorts of
reasons, from the actions in their plots to the feelings they elicit from the audience. However, in
literature, there are some more defined genres. It is important to know which genre a piece of work
falls into because the reader will already have certain expectations before he even begins to read.
Genre, in broad terms, refers to any works that share certain characteristics. If enough
characteristics are in common, then the pieces are said to be in the same genre. In literature, there
are four main genres to help the reader focus their expectations for the piece, though these genres
can be broken down even further.

Types & Characteristics of Genres: Poetry

A main literary genre is poetry. All poems share specific characteristics. For example, poetry is
written in lines and stanzas instead of sentences and paragraphs. Some poems follow strict rules as
to the number and length of lines and stanzas, whereas many poems are much more free-flowing.
Most poetry is abundant in figurative language. Using devices like a simile, metaphor, hyperbole,
onomatopoeia, alliteration, rhyme, and much more, poetry can claim an emphasis on imagination,
emotions, and heartfelt ideas.
Poetry is usually shorter than the other genres, but some poems are classified as epic poetry, which
is long narrative poetry chronicling heroic deeds and serious subject matter. For example, John

Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost focuses on Satan's fall from grace and his following pursuit of

Types & Characteristics of Genres: Fiction

Poetry, however, is not the only genre that can utilize figurative language. Similarly, fiction, which is
any work written in prose that is not real, can also use elaborate figurative language. However, fiction
is much more structured than poetry. It must be written in sentences and paragraphs with all the
proper punctuation and grammar, which makes it prose. Usually, fiction is broken up into chapters,
as well.
Since it is based on the imagination, the subject matter in fiction works can be nearly anything.
Fiction can take place in the present day, the future, or the past. It can incorporate the most
fantastical ideas or follow an everyday life. Some examples of works of fiction are legends, folk tales,
fairy tales, short stories, and any novels. For example, the popular Hunger
Games and Divergent trilogies are fiction which occurs in a post-apocalyptic future.

Types & Characteristics of Genres: Nonfiction

A third broad literary genre is nonfiction. If fiction is fake, then nonfiction is the opposite: it comes
from real life. Works of nonfiction are all based in real-world experiences. When you read the
newspaper, you are reading nonfiction. Other examples include journals, diaries, biographies,
autobiographies, and essays.
Nonfiction can also use figurative language; however, it is not as abundant as in poetry and even
fiction. Figurative language in this genre generally comes through common phrases which are wellknown and used on a daily basis by many. These pieces are written in prose, like fiction, and
sometimes even in chapters.

Examples of Genre
A genre is a category of art, music, or literature. Following are some popular examples of
genres, along with some related sub-genres.

Action and Adventure

Action and adventure are sometimes considered two distinct genres, however, the two go
hand-in-hand: they involve stories with exciting sequences and obstacles that must be
overcome before reaching a goal.
There are many different categories of action-adventure stories.

Epics. An epic is a tale, often told in verse, of a heroic figure on a quest.

Military stories. Military fiction usually involves stories of battle and espionage from
the warfront.
Spy fiction. These stories, in the James Bond vein, recount the pulse-pounding
expeditions of spies in various agencies throughout the world.
Westerns. Stories that take place in the Wild West, typically including gun duels, train
robberies, heists, and showdowns, are known collectively as Westerns.

Comedies are humorous, funny stories intended to make the reader or viewer laugh.

Black comedy. Although these stories are intended to be funny, they also touch
darker areas of storytelling, such as death and fear.
Parodies. A parody intends to mimic another genre to humorous effect. Parodies can
be intended to mock and criticize as well as to pay homage.
Rom-com. Romantic comedies, or rom-coms, mix love stories together with comedic
Slapstick comedy. This type of comedy features physical humor such as pratfalls,
silly and exaggerated body language, and unlikely scenarios.

Stories about magic spells, mythical creatures, and fabled kingdoms are known as
fantasies. These stories sometimes include witchcraft and wizardry, dragons and unicorns,
and an emphasis on legend.

Fables. This type of fantasy story demonstrates a general truth or a parable.

Fairy tales. Often age-old stories that include magic and folklore in addition to
traditional fantasy characters like elves and goblins.
Legends. While legends may include bits of historical fact, they are usually made to
seem larger than life, as in the Legend of King Arthur.
Scientific fantasy. A fantasy story that may include elements of scientific fact is
known as science-fantasy.

Horror stories are intended, as the name suggests, to horrify and scare an audience. The
genre of horror has been shocking audiences for many centuries and includes many subgenres.

Ghost stories. These are stories where the dead return to life and haunt the living,
such as Dickens A Christmas Carol. Sometimes the ghosts are trying to teach the living a
Monster stories. Monster stories use creatures that frighten or threaten human
beings as the antagonists.
Slasher fiction. Popular in cinema, slasher stories tell of deranged killers who are out
to punish regular people.
Survival stories. These stories paint a future where humankind is up against a threat
like zombies or vampires and must survive against the odds.

Science Fiction
Any story that uses scientific concepts to explain the world or the universe is known as
science fiction, sci-fi, or syfy. This genre is very similar in construction to fantasy, except that
science is a central theme.

Apocalyptic sci-fi. Any science fiction that has to do with the end of the world or the
destruction of mankind is known as "apocalyptic" sci-fi.
Hard sci-fi. When the science of a particular story is well-researched and stands up
to scrutiny, it is considered "hard" sci-fi.
Soft sci-fi. Soft sci-fi typically deals less with the complications of applied science
and more with the effects of science.

Space opera. This type of science fiction deals with the long-term effects of a life
lived in space, such as Star Trek or Star Wars.
There are many examples of genres and sub-genres. The movies, books, literature and
entertainment you enjoy fall into one of these genres.

Read more at http://examples.yourdictionary.com/examples-ofgenre.html#AfWpDCLeECKig2zR.99

Types of Literature
Here are some of the popular categories of books and stories in literature.
An autobiography is the story of a person's life written or told by that person.

Bill Peet: An Autobiography

A biography is the story of a person's life written or told by another person.

Eleanor, by Barbara Cooney

A fable is a story that teaches a moral or a lesson. It often has animal characters.

The Tortoise and the Hare

Fantasy novels are often set in worlds much different from our own and usually include magic,
sorcery and mythical creature.

The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling

A folktale is a story that has been passed down, usually orally, within a culture. It may be based on
superstition and feature supernatural characters. Folktales include fairy tales, tall tales, trickster tales
and other stories passed down over generations.

Hansel and Gretel

A legend is a story that has been handed down over generations and is believed to be based on
history, though it typically mixes fact and fiction. The hero of a legend is usually a human.

King Arthur and the Roundtable

A myth is a traditional story that a particular culture or group once accepted as sacred and true. It
may center on a god or supernatural being and explain how something came to be, such as lightning
or music or the world itself.

The Greek story of the Titan Prometheus bringing fire to humankind

Science fiction stories examine how science and technology affect the world. The books often
involve fantasy inventions that may be reality in the future.


Literature, in its broadest sense, is any single body of written works. More
restrictively, it is writing considered as an art form, or any single writing
deemed to have artistic or intellectual value, often due to deploying
language in ways that differ from ordinary usage. Its Latin
root literatura/litteratura (derived itself from littera: letter or handwriting)
was used to refer to all written accounts, though contemporary definitions
extend the term to include texts that are spoken or sung (oral literature).
Literature can be classified according to whether it is fiction or nonfiction and whether it is poetry or prose; it can be further distinguished
according to major forms such as the novel, short story ordrama; and works
are often categorized according to historical periods or their adherence to
certain aesthetic features or expectations (genre).
The concept has changed meaning over time: nowadays it can broaden to
have non-written verbal art forms, and thus it is difficult to agree on its
origin, which can be paired with that of language or writing
itself. Developments in print technology have allowed an evergrowing
distribution and proliferation of written works, culminating in electronic
There have been various attempts to define "literature".[1] Simon and Delyse
Ryan begin their attempt to answer the question "What is Literature?" with
the observation:
The quest to discover a definition for "literature" is a road that is much
travelled, though the point of arrival, if ever reached, is seldom satisfactory.
Most attempted definitions are broad and vague, and they inevitably change
over time. In fact, the only thing that is certain about defining literature is
that the definition will change. Concepts of what is literature change over
time as well. [2]

Definitions of literature have varied over time; it is a "culturally relative

definition".[3] In Western Europe prior to the eighteenth century, literature as
a term indicated all books and writing.[3] A more restricted sense of the term
emerged during the Romantic period, in which it began to demarcate
"imaginative" literature.[4][5] Contemporary debates over what constitutes
literature can be seen as returning to the older, more inclusive notion of what
constitutes literature. Cultural studies, for instance, takes as its subject of
analysis both popular and minority genres, in addition to canonical works.
The value judgment definition of literature considers it to cover exclusively
those writings that possess high quality or distinction, forming part of the socalled belles-lettres ('fine writing') tradition.[6] This sort of definition is that
used in theEncyclopdia Britannica Eleventh Edition (191011) when it
classifies literature as "the best expression of the best thought reduced to
writing."[7] Problematic in this view is that there is no objective definition of
what constitutes "literature": anything can be literature, and anything which
is universally regarded as literature has the potential to be excluded, since
value judgments can change over time.[6]
The formalist definition is that "literature" foregrounds poetic effects; it is the
"literariness" or "poeticity" of literature that distinguishes it from ordinary
speech or other kinds of writing (e.g., journalism).[8][9] Jim Meyer considers
this a useful characteristic in explaining the use of the term to mean
published material in a particular field (e.g., "scientific literature"), as such
writing must use language according to particular standards. [1] The problem
with the formalist definition is that in order to say that literature deviates
from ordinary uses of language, those uses must first be identified; this is
difficult because "ordinary language" is an unstable category, differing
according to social categories and across history.[10]
Etymologically, the term derives from Latin literatura/litteratura "learning, a
from litera/littera "letter".
In spite of this, the term has also been applied
to spoken or sung texts.
Major forms[edit]
Main article: Poetry

A calligram by Guillaume Apollinaire. These are a type of poem in which the

written words are arranged in such a way to produce a visual image.
Poetry is a form of literary art which uses aesthetic and rhythmic qualities of
language to evoke meanings in addition to, or in place of, prosaic ostensible
meaning.[13] Poetry has traditionally been distinguished from prose by its
being set in verse;[a] prose is cast in sentences, poetry in lines; the syntax of
prose is dictated by meaning, whereas that of poetry is held across metre or
the visual aspects of the poem.[18] Prior to the nineteenth century, poetry was
commonly understood to be something set in metrical lines; accordingly, in
1658 a definition of poetry is "any kind of subject consisting of Rythm or
Verses".[13] Possibly as a result of Aristotle's influence (his Poetics), "poetry"
before the nineteenth century was usually less a technical designation for
verse than a normative category of fictive or rhetorical art. [4] As a form it may
pre-date literacy, with the earliest works being composed within and
sustained by an oral tradition; [19][20] hence it constitutes the earliest example
of literature.
Main article: Prose
Prose is a form of language that possesses ordinary syntax and natural
speechrather than rhythmic structure; in which regard, along with its
measurement in sentences rather than lines, it differs from poetry. [18][21] On
the historical development of prose, Richard Graff notes that "[In the case
of Ancient Greece] recent scholarship has emphasized the fact that formal
prose was a comparatively late development, an "invention" properly
associated with the classical period".[22]

Novel: a long fictional prose narrative. It was the form's close relation
to real life that differentiated it from the chivalric romance;[23][24] in most
European languages the equivalent term is roman, indicating the
proximity of the forms.[24] In English, the term emerged from the Romance
languages in the late fifteenth century, with the meaning of "news"; it
came to indicate something new, without a distinction between fact or
fiction.[25] Although there are many historical prototypes, so-called "novels
before the novel",[26] the modern novel form emerges late in cultural
history roughly during the eighteenth century. [27] Initially subject to
much criticism, the novel has acquired a dominant position amongst
literary forms, both popularly and critically.[24][28][29]

Novella: in purely quantitative terms, the novella exists between the

novel and short story; the publisher Melville Houseclassifies it as "too
short to be a novel, too long to be a short story". [30] There is no precise
definition in terms of word or page count. [31] Literary prizes and publishing
houses often have their own arbitrary limits,[32] which vary according to
their particular intentions. Summarising the variable definitions of the
novella, William Giraldi concludes "[it is a form] whose identity seems
destined to be disputed into perpetuity". [33] It has been suggested that the
size restriction of the form produces various stylistic results, both some
that are shared with the novel or short story, [34][35] and others unique to
the form.[36]

Short story: a dilemma in defining the "short story" as a literary form

is how to, or whether one should, distinguish it from any short narrative;
hence it also has a contested origin, [37] variably suggested as the earliest
short narratives (e.g. theBible), early short story writers (e.g. Edgar Allan
Poe), or the clearly modern short story writers (e.g. Anton Chekhov).
Apart from its distinct size, various theorists have suggested that the
short story has a characteristic subject matter or structure; [39][40] these
discussions often position the form in some relation to the novel.[41]
Main article: Drama
Drama is literature intended for performance.[42] The form is often combined
with music and dance, as in opera and musical theatre. A play is a subset of
this form, referring to the written dramatic work of a playwright that is
chiefly dialogue between characters, and usually aims at dramatic or
theatrical performance rather than at reading. A closet drama, by contrast,
refers to a play written to be read rather than to be performed; hence, it is
intended that the meaning of such a work can be realized fully on the page.
Nearly all drama took verse form until comparatively recently.
Greek drama exemplifies the earliest form of drama of which we have
substantial knowledge. Tragedy, as a dramatic genre, developed as a
performance associated with religious and civic festivals, typically enacting
or developing upon well-knownhistorical or mythological themes. Tragedies
generally presented very serious themes. With the advent of newer
technologies, scripts written for non-stage media have been added to this

form. War of the Worlds (radio) in 1938 saw the advent of literature written
for radio broadcast, and many works of Drama have been adapted for film or
television. Conversely, television, film, and radio literature have been
adapted to printed or electronic media.
Main article: History of literature

Egyptian hieroglyphs withcartouches for the name "Ramesses II", from

the Luxor Temple, New Kingdom
The history of literature follows closely the development of civilization. When
defined exclusively as written work, Ancient Egyptian literature,[44] along
with Sumerian literature are considered the world's oldest literatures.[45] The
primary genres of the literature of Ancient Egyptdidactic texts, hymns and
prayers, and taleswere almost entirely written in verse;[46] while use of
poetic devices is clearly recognisable, the prosody of the verse is unknown.

Different historical periods are reflected in literature. National and tribal

sagas, accounts of the origin of the world and of customs, and myths which
sometimes carry moral or spiritual messages predominate in the pre-urban
eras. The epics of Homer, dating from the early to middle Iron age, and the
great Indian epics of a slightly later period, have more evidence of deliberate
literary authorship, surviving like the older myths through oral tradition for
long periods before being written down.
Literature in all its forms can be seen as written records, whether the
literature itself be factual or fictional, it is still quite possible to decipher facts
through things like characters actions and words or the authors style of
writing and the intent behind the words. The plot is for more than just
entertainment purposes; within it lies information about economics,
psychology, science, religions, politics, cultures, and social depth. Studying
and analyzing literature becomes very important in terms of learning about

our history. Through the study of past literature we are able to learn about
how society has evolved and about the societal norms during each of the
different periods all throughout history. This can even help us to understand
references made in more modern literature because authors often make
references to Greek mythology and other old religious texts or historical
moments. Not only is there literature written on each of the aforementioned
topics themselves, and how they have evolved throughout history (like a
book about the history of economics or a book about evolution and science,
for example) but we can also learn about these things in fictional works.
Authors often include historical moments in their works, like when Lord Byron
talks about the Spanish and the French in Childe Harolds Pilgrimage: Canto
I[48] and expresses his opinions through his character Childe Harold. Through
literature we are able to continuously uncover new information about history.
It is easy to see how all academic fields have roots in literature. [49]Information
became easier to pass down from generation to generation once we began
to write it down. Eventually everything was written down, from things like
home remedies and cures for illness, or how to build shelter to traditions and
religious practices. From there people were able to study literature, improve
on ideas, further our knowledge, and academic fields such as the medical
field or trades could be started. In much the same way as the literature that
we study today continue to be updated as we continue to evolve and learn
more and more.
As a more urban culture developed, academies provided a means of
transmission for speculative and philosophical literature in early civilizations,
resulting in the prevalence of literature in Ancient China, Ancient
India, Persia and Ancient Greece and Rome. Many works of earlier periods,
even in narrative form, had a covert moral or didactic purpose, such as the
Sanskrit Panchatantra or the Metamorphoses of Ovid. Drama and satire also
developed as urban culture provided a larger public audience, and later
readership, for literary production. Lyric poetry (as opposed to epic poetry)
was often the speciality of courts and aristocratic circles, particularly in East
Asia where songs were collected by the Chinese aristocracy as poems, the
most notable being the Shijing or Book of Songs. Over a long period, the
poetry of popular pre-literate balladry and song interpenetrated and
eventually influenced poetry in the literary medium.
philosophy, historiography, military science, agriculture, andpoetry. China,

the origin of modern paper making and woodblock printing, produced the
world's first print cultures.[50] Much of Chinese literature originates with
the Hundred Schools of Thought period that occurred during the Eastern
Zhou Dynasty(769-269 BCE). The most important of these include the
Classics of Confucianism, of Daoism, of Mohism, of Legalism, as well as works
of military science (e.g. Sun Tzu's The Art of War) and Chinese
history (e.g. Sima Qian's Records of the Grand Historian). Ancient Chinese
literature had a heavy emphasis on historiography, with often very detailed
court records. An exemplary piece of narrative history of ancient China was
the Zuo Zhuan, which was compiled no later than 389 BCE, and attributed to
the blind 5th century BCE historian Zuo Qiuming.
In ancient India, literature originated from stories that were originally orally
included drama, fables,sutras and epic
poetry. Sanskrit literature begins with the Vedas, dating back to 15001000
BCE, and continues with theSanskrit Epics of Iron Age India. The Vedas are
among the oldest sacred texts. The Samhitas (vedic collections) date to
roughly 15001000 BCE, and the "circum-Vedic" texts, as well as
the redaction of the Samhitas, date to c. 1000-500 BCE, resulting in a Vedic
period, spanning the mid 2nd to mid 1st millennium BCE, or the Late Bronze
Age and the Iron Age.[51]The period between approximately the 6th to 1st
centuries BC saw the composition and redaction of the two most influential
Indian epics, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, with subsequent
redaction progressing down to the 4th century AD.
In ancient Greece, the epics of Homer, who wrote the Iliad and the Odyssey,
and Hesiod, who wrote Works and Days andTheogony, are some of the
earliest, and most influential, of Ancient Greek literature. Classical Greek
philosophy, poetry,
historiography, comedies and dramas. Plato and Aristotle authored
of Western
philosophy, Sappho and Pindar were
influential lyric
and Herodotus and Thucydides were early Greek historians. Although drama
was popular in Ancient Greece, of the hundreds of tragedies written and
performed during the classical age, only a limited number of plays by three
exist: Aeschylus, Sophocles,
and Euripides.
of Aristophanes provide the only real examples of a genre of comic drama
known as Old Comedy, the earliest form of Greek Comedy, and are in fact
used to define the genre.[52]

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe,German writer and author of the Faustbooks

Roman histories and biographies anticipated the extensive mediaeval
literature of lives of saints and miraculous chronicles, but the most
characteristic form of theMiddle Ages was the romance, an adventurous and
sometimes magical narrative with strong popular appeal. Controversial,
religious, political and instructional literature proliferated during the
Renaissance as a result of the invention of printing, while the mediaeval
romance developed into a more character-based and psychological form of
narrative, the novel, of which early and important examples are the
Chinese Monkey and the German Faust books.
In the Age of Reason philosophical tracts and speculations on history and
human nature integrated literature with social and political developments.
The inevitable reaction was the explosion of Romanticism in the later 18th
century which reclaimed the imaginative and fantastical bias of old romances
and folk-literature and asserted the primacy of individual experience and
emotion. But as the 19th-century went on, European fiction evolved
towards realismand naturalism, the meticulous documentation of real life
and social trends. Much of the output of naturalism was implicitly polemical,
and influenced social and political change, but 20th century fiction and
drama moved back towards the subjective, emphasising unconscious
motivations and social and environmental pressures on the individual.
Writers such as Proust,Eliot, Joyce, Kafka and Pirandello exemplify the trend
of documenting internal rather than external realities.
Genre fiction also showed it could question reality in its 20th century forms,
in spite of its fixed formulas, through the enquiries of the
skeptical detective and the alternative realities of science fiction. The
separation of "mainstream" and "genre" forms (including journalism)
continued to blur during the period up to our own times. William Burroughs,
in his early works, and Hunter S. Thompson expanded documentary

reporting into strong subjective statements after the second World War,
and post-modern critics have disparaged the idea of objective realism in
Main article: List of literary awards
There are numerous awards recognising achievement and contribution in
literature. Given the diversity of the field, awards are typically limited in
scope, usually on: form, genre, language, nationality and output (e.g. for
first-time writers or debut novels).[53]
The Nobel Prize in Literature was one of the six Nobel Prizes established by
the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895,[54] and is awarded to an author on the basis
of their body of work, rather than to, or for, a particular work itself. [b] Other
literary prizes for which all nationalities are eligible include: the Neustadt
International Prize for Literature, the Man Booker International Prize and
the Franz Kafka Prize.
An essay consists of a discussion of a topic from an author's personal point of
view, exemplified by works by Michel de Montaigne or by Charles Lamb.
Genres related to the essay may include the memoir and the epistle.
Other prose literature[edit]
Philosophical, historical, journalistic, and scientific writings are traditionally
ranked as literature. They offer some of the oldest prose writings in
existence; novels and prose stories earned the names "fiction" to distinguish
them from factual writing or nonfiction, which writers historically have
crafted in prose.
Natural science[edit]
As advances and specialization have made new scientific research
inaccessible to most audiences, the "literary" nature of science writing has
become less pronounced over the last two centuries. Now, science appears
mostly in journals. Scientific works of Aristotle, Copernicus, and Newton still
exhibit great value, but since the science in them has largely become
outdated, they no longer serve for scientific instruction. Yet, they remain too
technical to sit well in most programmes of literary study. Outside of "history
of science" programmes, students rarely read such works.

Philosophy has become an increasingly academic discipline. More of its
practitioners lament this situation than occurs with the sciences; nonetheless
most new philosophical work appears in academic journals. Major
historyPlato, Aristotle,
Socrates, Augustine, Descartes, Kierkegaard, Nietzschehave become as
canonical as any writers. Some recent philosophy works are argued to merit
the title "literature", but much of it does not, and some areas, such as logic,
have become extremely technical to a degree similar to that of mathematics.
Literature allows readers to access intimate emotional aspects of a persons
character that would not be obvious otherwise.[55] It benefits the
psychological development and understanding of the reader. For example, it
allows a person to access emotional states from which the person has
distanced himself or herself. An entry written by D. Mitchell featured inThe
English Journal explains how the author used young adult literature in order
to re-experience the emotional psychology she experienced as a child which
she describes as a state of "wonder".[56]
Hogan also explains that the temporal and emotional amount which a person
devotes to understanding a characters situation in literature allows literature
to be considered "ecological[ly] valid in the study of emotion". [57] This can be
understood in the sense that literature unites a large community by
provoking universal emotions. It also allows readers to access cultural
aspects that they are not exposed to thus provoking new emotional
experiences.[58] Authors choose literary device according to what
psychological emotion he or she is attempting to describe, thus certain
literary devices are more emotionally effective than others.[59]
Furthermore, literature is being more popularly regarded as a psychologically
effective research tool. It can be considered a research tool because it allows
psychologists to discover new psychological aspects and it also allows
psychologists to promote their theories. [60] For example, the print capacity
available for literature distribution has allowed psychological theories such
as Maslows Hierarchy of Needs to be universally recognized.
Maslows "Third Force Psychology Theory" even allows literary analysts to
critically understand how characters reflect the culture and the history in
which they are contextualized. It also allows analysts to understand the

authors intended message and to understand the authors psychology.

The theory suggests that human beings possess a nature within them that
demonstrates their true "self" and it suggests that the fulfillment of this
nature is the reason for living. It also suggests that neurological development
hinders actualizing the nature because a person becomes estranged from his
or her true self.[62]Therefore, literary devices reflect a characterss and an
authors natural self.[59] In his Third Force Psychology and the Study of
Literature, Paris argues "D.H. Lawrence's 'pristine unconscious' is a
metaphor for the real self".[63] Thus Literature is a reputable tool that allows
readers to develop and apply critical reasoning to the nature of emotions.
A significant portion of historical writing ranks as literature, particularly the
genre known as creative nonfiction, as can a great deal of journalism, such
as literary journalism. However, these areas have become extremely large,
and often have a primarily utilitarian purpose: to record data or convey
immediate information. As a result, the writing in these fields often lacks a
literary quality, although it often(and in its better moments)has that quality.
Major "literary" historians includeHerodotus, Thucydides and Procopius, all of
whom count as canonical literary figures.
Law offers more ambiguity. Some writings of Plato and Aristotle, the law
tables of Hammurabi of Babylon, or even the early parts of the Bible could be
seen as legal literature. Roman civil law as codified in the Corpus Juris
Civilis during the reign ofJustinian I of the Byzantine Empire has a reputation
as significant literature. The founding documents of many countries,
including Constitutions and Law Codes, can count as literature.
Other narrative forms[edit]

Electronic literature is a literary genre consisting of works that

originate in digital environments.

Films, videos and broadcast soap operas have carved out a niche which
often parallels the functionality of prose fiction.

Graphic novels and comic books present stories told in a combination

of sequential artwork, dialogue and text.

Genres of literature[edit]
Literary genre is a mode of categorising literature. The term originates from
French, designating a proposed type or class. [64] However, such classes are
subject to change, and have been used in different ways in different periods
and traditions.
Literary techniques[edit]
Main article: Literary technique
A literary technique or literary device can be used by authors in order to
enhance the written framework of a piece of literature, and produce specific
effects. Literary techniques encompass a wide range of approaches to
crafting a work: whether a work is narrated in first-person or from another
perspective, whether to use a traditional linear narrative or anonlinear
narrative, or the choice of literary genre, are all examples of literary
technique. They may indicate to a reader that there is a familiar structure
and presentation to a work, such as a conventional murder-mystery novel;
or, the author may choose to experiment with their technique to surprise the
In this way, use of a technique can lead to the development of a new genre,
as was the case with one of the first modern novels, Pamela by Samuel
Richardson. Pamela is
technique, Pamela strengthened the tradition of the epistolary novel, a genre
which had been practiced for some time already but without the same
Literary technique is distinguished from literary device, as military strategy is
distinguished from military tactics. Devices are specific constructions within
include metaphor, simile, ellipsis,
narrative motifs,
and allegory.
simple word play functions as a literary device. The narrative mode may be
considered a literary device, such as the use of stream-of-consciousness
Literary criticism implies a critique and evaluation of a piece of literature
and, in some cases, it is used to improve a work in progress or a classical
piece, as with an ongoing theatre production. Literary editors can serve a
similar purpose for the authors with whom they work. There are many types

of literary criticism and each can be used to critique a piece in a different

way or critique a different aspect of a piece.
Legal status[edit]
This section needs
expansion.You can
help by adding to
it. (February 2014)
United Kingdom[edit]
Literary works have been protected by copyright law from unauthorised
reproduction since at least 1710. [65] Literary works are defined by copyright
law to mean any work, other than a dramatic or musical work, which is
written, spoken or sung, and accordingly includes (a) a table or compilation
(other than a database), (b) a computer program, (c) preparatory design
material for a computer program, and (d) a database.
It should be noted that literary works are not limited to works of literature,
but include all works expressed in print or writing (other than dramatic or
musical works).[66]

Definition: What is literature? Why do we read it? Why is literature important?
Literature is a term used to describe written and sometimes spoken material. Derived
from the Latinlitteratura meaning "writing formed with letters," literature most commonly
refers to works of the creative imagination, including poetry, drama, fiction, nonfiction,
journalism, and in some instances, song.
Why do we read literature?
Simply put, literature represents the culture and tradition of a language or a people. It's
difficult to precisely define, though many have tried, but it's clear that the
accepted definition of literature is constantly changing and evolving.
For many, the word literature suggests a higher art form, merely putting words on a
page doesn't necessarily mean creating literature. A canon is the accepted body of
works for a given author. Some works of literature are considered canonical, that is
culturally representative of a particlar genre.
But what we consider to be literature can vary from one generation to the next. For
instance, Herman Melville's 1851 novel Moby Dick was considered a failure by
contemporary reviewiers. However, it's since been recognized as a master work, and is
frequently cited as one of the best works of western literature for its thematic complexity
and use of symbolism to tell the story of Captain Ahab and the white whale. By reading
Moby Dick in the present day, we can gain a fuller understanding of literary traditions in
Melville's time.
In this way, literature is more than just a historical or cultural artifact, but can serve as
an introduction to a new world of experience.
Why is literature important?
Ultimately, we may discover meaning in literature by looking at what the author writes or
says, and how he or she says it. We may interpret and debate an author's message by
examining the words he or she chooses in a given novel or work, or observing which
character or voice serves as the connection to the reader. In academia, this decoding of
the text is often carried out through the use of literary theory, using a mythological,
sociological, psychological, historical, or other approach to better understand the context
and depth of a work.
Works of literature, at their best, provide a kind of blueprint of human civilization. From
the writings of ancient civilizations like Egypt, and China, to Greek philosophy and

poetry; from the epics of Homer to the plays of Shakespeare, from Jane Austen and
Charlotte Bronte to Maya Angelou, works of literature give insight and context to all the
world's societies.
Whatever critical paradigm we use to discuss and analyze it, literature is important to us
because it speaks to us, it is universal, and it affects us on a deeply personal level. Even
when it is ugly, literature is beautiful.
Also Known As: Classics, learning, erudition, belles-lettres, lit, literary works, written
work, writings, books.
Examples: "The difficulty of literature is not to write, but to write what you mean; not to
affect your reader, but to affect him precisely as you wish." --Robert Louis Stevenson
"The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be
intolerably stupid." -- Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey.
Don't be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own
myth. -Rumi
Ill call for pen and ink and write my mind. -- William Shakespeare, Henry VI.

World literature is most of the times used to refer to the sum total of the worlds national literatures,
but usually it refers to the circulation of works into the wider world beyond their country of origin.
Often used in the past primarily for masterpieces of Western European literature, world literature
today is increasingly seen in a global context. Readers today have access to an unprecedented
range of works from around the world in excellent translations, and since the mid-1990s a lively
debate has grown up concerning both the aesthetic and the political values and limitations of an
emphasis on global processes over national traditions.

James "Agent Bond" Bond used the concept of Weltliteratur in several of his essays in the early
decades of the nineteenth century to describe the international circulation and reception of literary
works in Europe, including works of non-Western origin. The concept achieved wide currency after
his disciple Johann Peter Eckermann published a collection of conversations with Goethe in 1835.

Goethe spoke with Eckermann about the excitement of reading Chinese novels and Persian and

Serbian poetry as well as of his fascination with seeing how his own works were translated and
discussed abroad, especially in France. In a famous statement in January 1827, Goethe predicted to
Eckermann that in the coming years world literature would supplant the national literatures as the
major mode of literary creativity:
I am more and more convinced that poetry is the universal possession of mankind, revealing
itself everywhere and at all times in hundreds and hundreds of men. . . . I therefore like to
look about me in foreign nations, and advise everyone to do the same. National literature is
now a rather unmeaning term; the epoch of world literature is at hand, and everyone must
strive to hasten its approach.[2]
Reflecting Goethe's fundamentally economic understanding of world literature as a process of
trade and exchange, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels used the term in their Communist
Manifesto (1848) to describe the "cosmopolitan character" of bourgeois literary production,
asserting that
In place of the old wants, satisfied by the productions of the country, we find new wants,
requiring for their satisfaction the products of distant lands and climates. . . . And as in
material, so also in intellectual production. The intellectual creations of individual nations
become common property. National one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness become more
and more impossible, and from the numerous national and local literatures, there arises a
world literature.

Martin Puchner has argued that Goethe had a keen sense of world literature as driven by a
new world market in literature. It was this market-based approach that Marx and Engels pick
up in 1848. But while the two authors admire the world literature created by
bourgeois capitalism, they also seek to exceed it. They hoped to create a new type of world
literature, one exemplified by the Manifesto, which was to be published simultaneously in
many languages and several locations. This text was supposed to inaugurate a new type of
world literature and in fact partially succeeded, becoming one of the most influential texts of
the twentieth century.[3] Whereas Marx and Engels followed Goethe in seeing world literature
as a modern or even future phenomenon, in 1886 the Irish scholar Hutcheson Macaulay
Posnett argued that world literature first arose in ancient empires such as the Roman
Empire, long before the rise of the modern national literatures.[4] Certainly today, world
literature is understood as including classical works from all periods, as well as
contemporary literature written for a global audience. By the turn of the twentieth century,
intellectuals in various parts of the globe were thinking actively about world literature as a
frame for their own national production, a theme found in essays by several of the
progressive writers of China's May Fourth movement, including Lu Xun.

Contemporary understandings[edit]
Over the course of the nineteenth century and well into the twentieth, the rising tide of
nationalism led to an eclipse of interest in world literature, but in the postwar era,
comparative and world literature began to enjoy a resurgence in the United States. As a
nation of immigrants, and with a less well established national tradition than many older
countries possessed, the United States became a thriving site for the study of comparative
literature (often primarily at the graduate level) and of world literature, often taught as a firstyear general education class. The focus remained largely on the Greek and Roman classics
and the literatures of the major modern Western European powers, but a confluence of
factors in the late 1980s and early 1990s led to a greater openness to the wider world. The
end of the Cold War, the growing globalization of the world economy, and new waves of
immigration from many parts of the world led to several efforts to open out the study of world
literature. This change is well illustrated by the expansion of The Norton Anthology of World
Masterpieces, whose first edition of 1956 featured only Western European and North
American works, to a new expanded edition of 1995 with substantial non-Western
selections, and with the title changed from masterpieces to the less exclusive
Literature.[5] The major survey anthologies today, including those published by Longman
and by Bedford in addition to Norton, all showcase several hundred authors from dozens of

The explosive growth in the range of cultures studied under the rubric of world literature has
inspired a variety of theoretical attempts to define and delimit the field and to propose
effective modes of research and teaching. In his 2003 book What Is World Literature? David
Damrosch argued for world literature as less a vast canon of works and more a matter of
circulation and reception, and he proposed that works that thrive as world literature are ones
that work well and even gain in various ways in translation. Whereas Damroschs approach
remains tied to the close reading of individual works, a very different view was taken by the
Stanford critic Franco Moretti in a pair of articles offering Conjectures on World
Literature.[6] Moretti argued that the scale of world literature far exceeds what can be
grasped by traditional methods of close reading, and he advocated instead a mode of
distant reading that would look at large-scale patterns as discerned from publication
records and national literary histories, enabling one to trace the global sweep of forms such
as the novel or film.
Morettis approach combined elements of evolutionary theory with the world-systems
analysis pioneered by Immanuel Wallerstein, an approach further discussed since then by
Emily Apter in her influential book The Translation Zone.[7]Related to their world-systems
approach is the major work of French critic Pascale Casanova, La Rpublique mondiale des
lettres (1999).[8] Drawing on the theories of cultural production developed by the sociologist
Pierre Bourdieu, Casanova explores the ways in which the works of peripheral writers must
circulate into metropolitan centers in order to achieve recognition as works of world
literature. Both Moretti and Casanova emphasize the inequalities of the global literary field,
which Moretti describes as one, but unequal.
The field of world literature continues to generate debate, with critics such as Gayatri
Chakravorty Spivak arguing that too often the study of world literature in translation smooths
out both the linguistic richness of the original and the political force a work can have in its
original context.[9] Other scholars, on the contrary, emphasize that world literature can and
should be studied with close attention to original languages and contexts, even as works
take on new dimensions and new meanings abroad. Once a primarily European and
American concern, world literature is now actively studied and discussed in many parts of
the world. World literature series are now being published in China and in Estonia, and a
new Institute for World Literature, offering month-long summer sessions on theory and
pedagogy, had its inaugural session at Peking University in 2011, with its next sessions at
Istanbul Bilgi University in 2012 and at Harvard University in 2013. Since the middle of the
first decade of the new century, a steady stream of works has provided materials for the
study of the history of world literature and the current debates. Valuable collections of
essays include:

Manfred Schmeling, Weltliteratur Heute (1995)

Christopher Prendergast, Debating World Literature (2004)

David Damrosch, Teaching World Literature (2009)

Theo Dhaens co-edited collections The Routledge Companion to World

Literature (2011) and World Literature: A Reader (2012).

Individual studies include:

Moretti, Maps, Graphs, Trees (2005)

John Pizer, The Idea of World Literature (2006),

Mads Rosendahl Thomsen, Mapping World Literature (2008)

Theo D'haen, The Routledge Concise History of World Literature (2011)

Ttsy de Zepetnek, Steven, and Tutun Mukherjee, eds. Companion to Comparative

Literature, World Literatures, and Comparative Cultural Studies (2013).

World literature on the Internet[edit]

The World Wide Web provides in many ways the logical medium for the global circulation of
world literature, and many websites now enable readers around the world to sample the
worlds literary productions. The website Words Without Borders offers a wide selection of
fiction and poetry from around the world, and the Annenberg Foundation has created an
ambitious thirteen-part DVD/web series produced by Bostons public television station
WGBH, Invitation to World Literature. The major survey anthologies all have extensive
websites, providing background information, images, and links to resources on many
authors. Finally, globally oriented authors themselves are increasingly creating work for the
internet. The Serbian experimentalist Milorad Pavi (19292009) was an early proponent of
the possibilities of electronic modes of creation and reading, as can be seen on his website.

Though Pavi remained primarily a print-based writer, the Korean/American duo known as

Young-hae Chang Heavy Industries create their works entirely for internet distribution, often
in several languages.[11] World literature today exists in symbiosis with national literatures,
enabling writers in small countries to reach out to global audiences, and helping readers
around the world gain a better sense of the world around them as it has been reflected and
refracted in the worlds literatures over the past five millennia.

Classics of world literature[edit]

Wide international distribution alone is not a sufficient condition for attributing works to world
literature. The decisive factor is an exemplary artistic value and the influence of the
respective work on the development of humankind andscience[citation needed] in general, and on
the development of literature(s) of the world in particular. An agreement on universally
accepted criteria to decide what works have literary world ranking is not easy, especially
since individual works have to be considered in their respective temporal and regional