ERIC Number: ED461270
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1997
What Is Literature? A Definition Based on Prototypes.
Two different approaches to the definition of literature (criterial and prototypical) are described, and some features of a prototypical literary work are outlined. The criterial approach attempts to provide criteria that must be met by all texts to be called literature. The prototype approach focuses on a particularly good example to which other examples bear resemblance. It is suggested that prototypical literary works are (1) written texts; (2) are marked by careful use of language, including features such as creative metaphors, well-turned phrases, elegant syntax, rhyme, alliteration, and meter; (3) are in a literary genre (poetry, prose, fiction, or drama); (4) are read aesthetically; (5) are intended by the author to be read aesthetically; and (6) contain many weak implicatures, and are deliberately somewhat open in interpretation. Two texts, one from a cookbook and the other a poem, are analyzed according to this definition. Problems with this definition are examined briefly. (Contains 17 references.) (MSE)
Publication Type: Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: In: Work Papers of the Summer Institute of Linguistics, University of North Dakota Session. Volume 41; see FL 024 706.