Today I had my first official Literature of the Western World class. Our professor asked us, in groups of three, to come up with our own definition of literature. My own group quickly came up with something along the following lines:
“Literature is any form of written art used to convey stories, culture and traditions.”
After some prodding, the room turned in to a debate. Oral story-telling – is it literature? Dancing, theatre, etc. Some people seemed to take insult when our group announced that no, it isn’t. But not considering something as literature isn’t an insult guys. It just means it isn’t a written art. It is performed, with personal aspects. Everyone performs things differently, alters a little. But the written form doesn’t change (unless someone rewrites it). A half-ass translation can indeed change the story.
What do you think? Sure, a play script is considered literature (in my eyes) but the performed version, no. I consider it an art. Art covers a broad aspect, from graffiti to short stories to street dancing. But a street dancer isn’t a writer – he (or she) is an artist. They might be a writer too, for I consider literature an art form (in some aspects). All writers are artists, in their own way, but not all artists are considered ‘literature’.
What do you think? How do you define literature?
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