Friday, September 10, 2010

Defining the Literary

In one of my classes, I'm asking the students to consider what makes a piece of writing literary as opposed to non-literary, like a manual, propaganda or guidebook (all of which, perhaps, could be literary in some way.)

There are dictionary definitions of literature and many possible aspects that make a piece of writing literary. Issues like tone, character, setting, theme, message and audience could be considered. The form that the words take on the page could be considered. The authors themselves, perhaps, are the element that transforms the words into the modules that create a piece of literature.

I’ll leave you with this question to consider over the weekend: What makes writing literary? I hope you’ll share your thoughts below in the Comments section.

2 comments:

Jen said...

Here's my quick and dirty definition:
level of description and tone.

Yes, I know Hemingway was the master of short sentences, but he managed to pack in a great deal of description.

I guess when description really outweighs the dialogue, then I feel I'm reading a literary piece.

I'm curious as to what others will have to say.

Chloe Yelena Miller said...

That's great; thanks Jen!