On the question of what is literature

A Reading Note

John M. Ellis has argued that the term “literature” operates rather like the word “weed”: weeds are not particular kinds of plant, but just any kind of plant which for some reason or another a gardener does not want around. Perhaps “literature” means something like the opposite: any kind of writing which for some reason or another somebody values highly.

Eagleton, Literary Theory, page 8

Similarly:

New typography thus resisted the idea that literature should enjoy a separate, special status: it was another design problem. And perhaps more interesting than “literature” for new typographers were industrial catalogues and other texts with complex problems of ordering and configuration to be resolved.

Kinross, Modern Typography, page 117

Of course, what you value reveals a lot about who you are—and what you want of the world around you.

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Literary Theory

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