What is literature?



okay so this video is going to set out to define a term that I think if you ask most people to really pinpoint and like say what it means they probably couldn't do it off the top of their head so it's kind of a complicated topic we're going to talk about how to define the word literature what is the word literature mean and to me to help you figure that out I thought we should probably go back through mass communication texts and literature because they kind of lead from one to the other so to review mass communication mass communication is when you communicate with a lot of people over a long period of time and generally speaking this is emoni like write a book or make a movie record a song publish a blog write a newspaper article do those things that can communicate lots of people over a long period of time okay so if we're doing mass communication the thing that we produce is a text a text is a thing that does the mass communicating so I write a book the book is the text I make a movie the movie is the text I write a song the song is the text so texts are things that do mass communication okay so what's literature literature is a type of a text it's a type of a text that has some qualifications in order to be literature the first and most simplest one it's been written down as a book there's not a lot of definitions for literature out there that have anything other than that as its basis it's been written down as a book so when we talk literature we're talking books but also we're not just talking any old kind of book we're talking a book that has been considered to be really good now this is where it gets confusing because to understand it as a book it's like cool I know what a book is great that's literature well not quite it's a book that's considered to be really good okay but to form like a definition for like everybody to accept the question be like considered to be good by who like who thinks that's good well traditionally if you were to look for like if you're like search Google like a list of literature like you probably come up with a bunch of books and generally speaking the books that are considered to be literature and that list grows all the time our books that are considered to be really good by people who have a lot of experience reading books and thinking closely about those books and that's not that shouldn't come some great shock that maybe we would trust people who spend a lot of time reading books to kind of define what these really good books are we would do that with anything right like if I wanted to I don't know buy a new snowboard I wouldn't just like go ask some like three year old like hey what's the best kind of snowboard nah they don't know anything about snow words I Borrego ask someone who like has ridden a lot of snowboards who knows a lot about snowboarding who's like really looked at the construction of a snowboard and different snowboards and compared them and thought about okay which one is better than the other okay this is a really good snowboard and the same could be said for anything right like if you're trying to go buy makeup right and you walked up to me you're like mr. Cowen what's the best kind of makeup to be buy I'd be like I don't know I don't anything about makeup the red one I don't know you'd probably go ask someone who knows a lot about makeup who goes in like who's used a lot of makeup who's compared the makeup who's looked at like what is it made out of how does it work like does it function well like it's supposed to does it look good you probably ask an expert someone who spends a lot of time doing that we would do that with anything in the entire world and with literature we'd probably do the same thing and we're trying to define what literature is we probably start with an expert opinion because that person might have a little bit more to say about it someone who's read a lot of books and has been able to think about those books a little more carefully because they've spent a lot of time with them and that's kind of their thing so for us and this year my goal for you is to start to develop a palette for literature and what that means to develop a palette for literature is to start to figure out what books are good what books are worthy of your time to read now that answer can change all the time some books are not considered to be literature but they're still fun to read there might not be like super complex they might not give you tons to think about but they're still super fun and that's awesome but usually a book that's considered to be literature probably is going to be a little more complex probably gonna give you a little more to think about in our class we're going to learn what's called literary analysis that's where we break down literature we take a good piece of literature and we try to figure it out and look at how it's put together and break it down into all these different parts well a good piece of literature should give us a lot to think about while we do that it shouldn't be of just easy answers the whole time it should actually be a lot of right answers that people who can come to different conclusions and everybody can be kind of right and we can all think deeply about it and it gives us something to like really think about and really talk about and it gives us stuff to write about that's a good piece of literature and for you to figure that out takes time it totally takes time just like figuring out the best of anything takes time Shakespeare is considered to be good literature right but if I took Hamlet like a Shakespeare play and walked up to a fifth grader and I was like hey fifth grader read Hamlet that 5th grader would 99% of the time turn around and like 5 minutes and be like this sucks because they haven't had the experience you can't go from Captain Underpants to Shakespeare in five minutes and be like oh this is amazing Shakespeare's super complex it's harder to read the words are harder to understand the stories are a little harder to understand there's a lot of things to break down in a Shakespeare play there's a lot of things to think about it's more challenging so to get there we need practice we're going to practice so breaking down stories we're going to practice reading stories and we'll get better at figuring out what is good literature and at the end of the day if you read Shakespeare after that experience in that practice and you're like I don't like it cool that's fine no judgment I am never going to tell you what good literature is I will never ever tell you one book is better than another this is going to be your quest and your journey to figure out which is what is good literature what makes a story worthy of our time all right so let's get to it

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