Understanding Literature Essay


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please read both files! and then answer the following 2 questions for each question pls write a good 5 sentences.

1. How do you understand literature? What are some examples (conventional/unconventional) of literature for you?

2. How has Eaglestone’s reading shifted your own understanding of the term “literature” THE READINGS ARE ATTACHED BELOW 🙂

here are two examples of my classmate’s answers to these questions for a bit of guidance:

example 1: I originally considered literature as storytelling though I knew it was not accurate because there are always extraneous examples that tell stories that are not literature such as video games. However, I do believe the script for the game could be considered an unconventional form of literature. That makes me question if subtitles could be considered literature because that is a form of communication used to convey a story so within my limiting definition it could fit but there is just this sense or feeling I have that it does not fit.

After reading Eaglestone’s work it gave me validation of the vague sense of definition that I have of literature. It is abstract and loosely defined by nature and to classify it in the same way we do in hard sciences is not intuitive. On page 5 where Eaglestone states “ Literature is more like a verb than a noun” it reminds me of the way anthropologists study culture. Being an anthropology major as a person of color made me scoff at the idea of rich affluent white people with no culture trying to classify culture in such a hard scientific way when it is simply a thing we do that is innate to human nature. Anthropology is a colonial science so its methods by nature can not actually come to the true understanding of cultures; you simply have to be the culture.

example 2: The elusive nature of the definition of literature makes it difficult to succinctly express, but at its core, I believe literature to be a form of physical communication that is used to convey emotional information to an audience. Examples of conventional literature to me are novels, poetry, short stories, and creative nonfiction. These are forms of literature that I encountered most often in English spaces and are therefore most expected and normal to me. Fiction, like To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee for example, is what first comes to mind for conventional literature. This is likely due to the visible role of storytelling and emotion; it is easy to see in this genre.

After considering the definition of literature in a broader context though, I wonder if maps can be a form of unconventional literature. In the same way that graphic novels have written and visual elements to enhance the way they communicate with the reader, so do maps. Maps are subject to the cartographer’s (or author’s) perception of place and what they hope to convey and achieve with their map. For example, many older maps were made by European white men and have visible racial and colonial biases based on the way they convey the world. Maps have changed over time. I think that oftentimes, people do not think to critically engage with maps; they consider them as facts set in stone. If considering them in the context of Robert Eaglestone’s metaphor however, maps can be seen as a living conversation; they exist in time, they can be perceived and engaged with in ways that are unique to each reader, and they can even exclude people like how Eaglestone mentions on page 18.

Eaglestone’s exploration of the definition of literature has broadened my understanding in the way that I now understand that literature is not stationary. It is not a collection of immovable words on pages that are intended to be understood in one particular way; it can never be truly defined. Instead, literature is a conversation that will hold unique significance relevant to each person and each time that it is consumed.

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