Monday, February 2, 2009

Re: Re: The Taming of Literature

While I had a similar experience reading LT, I’m not sure if I would agree with such a broad definition of literature. Maybe it’s just because I’m such a huge fan of concrete definitions, but it seems quite scary that anything that anyone feels to be literature is literature. I mean, if there’s no real definition outside of people’s judgments, then what’s the point of even having a word for it? The word literature loses its meaning when used so loosely. Obviously there has to be a definition (Maybe Eagleton will shock us all in the final pages, who knows?), otherwise how would the UT college of English decide what to teach its students?

I suppose we must make the distinction between what individuals think is a literary work, and what the literary community, or even society as a whole considers to be a literary work. I might think, for example, that the articles inside Playboy are of literary merit (some are actually surprisingly insightful) but I recognize that most people would not agree with me, and that therefore it’s rather meaningless to refer to playboy as a literary work. I hold the belief that the term ‘literature’ should be reserved for works whose style, substance, and overall lasting meaning can be recognized by all, or at least a respected majority. I’m not arguing that lyrics or scripts or blogs or ____ (insert your own non-traditional literary form here) can never be literature, but certainly there must be a sounder answer to the question ‘What is Literature’ than ‘whatever you want it to be’.

PS: Clint, I’m actually a Biomedical Engineering major, so maybe there’s hope for our kind after all haha

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