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p. 192. What is literature and does it matter?locked

  • Jonathan Culler

Abstract

The question ‘What is literature?’ arises because critics and theorists hope, by saying what literature is, to promote what they consider the most pertinent critical methods and to dismiss methods that neglect the most basic and distinctive aspects of literature. In the context of recent theory, the question ‘What is literature?’ matters because theory has highlighted the literariness of texts of all sorts. To reflect on literariness is to keep before us, as resources for analysing these discourses, reading practices elicited by literature: the suspension of the demand for immediate intelligibility, reflection on the implications of means of expression, and attention to how meaning is made and pleasure produced.

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