What is Literature?

So as some of you may know, I’ve recently started university! I’m studying literature (although I’ve only had one lecture so far!) and it’s really been making me think about what literature means to me. How can we define something so abstract? I wanted to share what I came up with, but I also wanted to pose the question to you: What does literature mean to you?


Literature is not so much the end product as the process. It’s not the publication or the type-set, it’s not the pretty cover art, and it’s not the fame or critical acclaim. Literature is words.

Literature is an art; it’s the art of expression, of education. It is entertainment and comfort, and it is discomfort and challenging. It is the gift of escape and the bestowing of empathy. It is a broadening and deepening of perception, and the addition of dimension.

Literature is sharing. It is a relationship between the word and reader that inevitably ends in change.

It is a question and an answer; a journey and a destination.

It is a cry to be heard and the promise that we will be.

Literature is revolutionary; a time bomb and a warning and a blessing. It is the wisdom and folly of times past and the prophecy of more. Literature is human and raw and honest.

It is marks on page, but they are marks that come from the soul.

What is literature? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one!

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day.



6 thoughts on “What is Literature?

  1. One lecture? Oh the life! he he. I love connecting to a book, getting something from each book, it may be learning something new like I have from Backpacks and Bra straps by Savannah Grace who was taken out of school and went backpacking with her family for a year. Or feeling good about myself after reading How I changed my Life in a Year by Shelley Wilson. Feeling the love and the emotion from Melissa Foster’s books is escapism, while reading intense books based on real life like The Black Hours by Alison Williams which is all about the English Witch trials is sometimes quite horrific but it makes you understand the past.
    Hope you’re making lots of new friends and having fun.

    • Haha I know right? I’ve had some seminars though because I also study Chinese.
      And that’s such a great answer! I’ve actually never read any of those books, but I can absolutely relate to the general sentiment.
      I am having fun thank you! It was really scary at first but it’s got better 🙂

      • So glad you’ve made it this far, Uni is a big step. Chinese too, Wow! Savannah Grace’s first book is called I Grew My Boobs In China. Quite fun if you wanted something light between your course books and full of great travel experiences in case you ever think of backpacking around China. Will you get to go to there as part of your course?
        Oh look at me ramble, ramble, don’t forget the review team if you need to fill you days!!

  2. Your first year of university – how exciting! ‘What is literature’ is such a big question, and I’m sure it will keep coming up while you’re studying for your degree – it certainly did for me! Your question reminded me that everyone has a different understanding of what ‘literature’ is, and even the experts sometimes disagree. For me, there’s the simple, mechanical definition – the one that talks about the words themselves, and the way they are arranged – and the personal, emotional one. That’s the one that varies person to person, but for me it’s partly escapism, partly the idea of sharing experiences with writers, and partly the ability to learn from the words and the ideas of others. 🙂

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