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Introduction to Literature Studies:

Prepared by: Kyle Knickelbein

Literature (from Latin litterae (plural); letter) is the art of written works. In its literal
translation, the word literature means "acquaintance (an association/relationship) with letters". The two most basic written literary categories include fiction (fact/true story) and non fiction (non-factual story). In light of literature as a form of art in language, Meyer argues that in being able to define literature, there are definitions based on a list of criteria which all literary works must meet (1). Some important elements which one should consider regarding literature includes the following: Literature as pieces of written texts Literature as marked by careful language, including features such as creative metaphors (comparisons of unlike things), well-turned phrases, elegant syntax (following the rules for the formation of grammatical sentences in linguistics), rhyme, alliteration, meter Literature as part of a particular genre (poetry, prose, fiction, drama, nonfiction) Literature as read aesthetically (artistic/imaginary interpretation) Literature as being intended by the author to be read aesthetically Literature as being deliberately/somewhat open to interpretation/criticism thus, the function of literary criticism (Meyer 4). Laga presents three interesting and pertinent points concerning literature: (1) That which counts as "fact" varies with cultures and time periods. Is the book of Genesis (and the entire Bible for that matter) fact or fiction? Are the legends and myths of Greek, Scandinavia, and Native Americans fact or fiction? Is Darwin's Origin of Species fact or fiction? Are news reports fact or fiction? (2) What is clearly imaginative writing is often not considered literature. For example, comic books, computer game stories, and Harlequin Romances are usually excluded from the category of "literature" even though they are certainly imaginative. (3) A lot of what we do consider literature is more like history (i.e. Boswell's Biography of Samuel Johnson, Claredon's History of the Rebellion) or philosophy (i.e. the works of Mill, Ruskin, Newman). In sum, fact vs. fiction is not a helpful way to distinguish between what is literary and what is not. There are also a lot of "facts" in novels, and many novels are based on real historical events.
Sources:

Laga, web. (http://mesastate.edu/~blaga/theoryindex/literaturex.html) Meyer, Jim. University of North Dakota Session (1997) Vol. 41

Why do we study literature?

To unlock and explore the diversities of other cultures and beliefs To appreciate the significant contributions literature has made to history (in being able to record it, speak out against injustices etc) such as apartheid, slavery, industrial revolution patriarchy, colonisation etc and also to teach us to see individual bias in the acceptance of stories without credible qualification To further our mastery of language (build a larger vocabulary basis, language rules and other important areas of syntax) To recognise language devices and evaluate and appreciate their emotional power (e.g pg 1 of Nervous Conditions I was not sorry when my brother died To learn better was to behave, to interpret and appreciate values, morals, ethics, traditions and customs most novels are morally-driven and the reader is left to question their own morals and values in the process To open our minds to the ambiguities of meaning while people will say what they mean and mean what they say in an ideal world, language in our world is, in reality, ambiguous (the possibility of two or more meanings depth and endless possibility in the nuance [degrees] of language)

The Structure of a Novel:

A novel is a fictitious prose narrative or tale (not a real-life story) of a considerable length ( from about 50 000 words; novella consists of 40 000 words or more) in which characters and actions are representative of the real life (past and present circumstances/situations) portrayed in the novel PLOT: It is an ordered, organised sequence of events and actions THEME: An important issue raised by the author/authoress which recurs throughout the novel SETTING: Time, location and circumstances in which the events take place (e.g. death of a character/if a character encounters a romantic relationship with another/if the characters life undergoes a sudden change). Setting is also crucial in the creation of mood and moral environment around which the novel will revolve CHARACTERISATION: The way an author presents characters by means of description or through that characters thoughts (internal monologue) or conversation with other characters within the novel

STRUCTURE: This constitutes GENERAL ORGANISATION of the novel, division into chapters, parts or volumes MODE OF NARRATION: Omniscient Narration: 3rd-person narration and 1st-person narration (e.g Tambu in Nervous Conditions) LITERARY STYLE: Language, diction (choice of words), and tone Can you tell the gender of an author by language? What sort of words do writers repeat or use interchangeably to highlight the themes within the text? How does the authors writing correlate with the historical context of the novel? can you tell that it was written in WWI/WWI/Apartheid/Colonisation, how?? How do we know the difference between a Harry Potter book and a Henry James book? There are many tell-tale signs which bear significance in determining the actual literary style the author chooses when writing and tie in especially with the genre in which a particular text is written

Fundamentals to Consider in English Literature 110 E this first semester: There are some particularly fundamental terms which would need to be covered before looking into the novels, short stories and dramas this year. They include the following: Colonise: To inhabit or take control of an area occupied by others. This is generally the occupation of a country by another outside (usually from another continent) country for the political, social, and economic exploitation of the country and the imposing of the colonisers language, traditions, customs, culture, morals, values and even religion. Coloniser: One who inhabits or takes control of an area inhabited by another. Apartheid: A social policy of racial segregation involving political, economic and legal discrimination against people who are note whites (essentially means separate development). Also constitutes institutional discrimination and racism by a white minority government. Patriarchy: A form of social organisation in which a male is the family head and the title is traced through the male line e.g Surname of male head passed on to offspring Feminism: A political movement which seeks justice for women and the end of sexism in all forms (as a fundamental form of gender prejudice) Feminist Literature: This encompasses literary work against all forms of female oppression and patriarchy (as a dominant ruling force against the freedom of women) How to identify feminism in literature:

The treatment of equal economic rights and educational rights for both sexes The presentation of female characters as independent, bold, capable and strong Examine the roles of female characters in the text: do they readily embrace traditional (usually patriarchal) roles; do they accept patriarchy and its forms or are they blatantly against it all together? Pioneer of feminist literature: Rebecca West and feminism journalism (1910)