A Personal Definition of Literature
There are a lot of things that come to mind when a person hears the word literature. Usually, one thinks of a book, story, classical work or some variation of the aforementioned but to ask someone to define the term literature, proves to be a much trickier task. Many are stumped when asked this question. People often answer by giving examples of literary works but fail to actually give an encompassing definition of the term. Welcome to the world of Webster (Dictionary that is). Webster's Dictionary defines the term literature as the body of written works of a language, period, or culture. This definition seems be broad but continuing on in the definition there was one part that really stood as a more adequate representation of what literature is about. The definition reads as follows; the body of written work produced by scholars or researchers in a given field. This particular definition seems to hit at the core of literature; scholarship and specialization.
Some feel that that all written works are forms of literature. I contend that a true work of literature must be written by a person who has studied a given field (specialization) and produced a work that allows the reader to gain some form of a lesson or viewpoint (scholarship), whether agreeing with the writer or taking an opposing stance of the information set fourth in the work. This is not to say that these types of works do not have any entertainment value but they have a type of entertainment that wraps the lesson, argument or viewpoint in an engaging style rather than being force-fed the authors' stance. A true work of literature should evoke some form of discussion on the works main point. A work of literature needs all of the above, not only to be called a true work of literature but to also cement its place in history, which is the last piece of the puzzle when defining the term.