This course is intended to deepen the understanding and appreciation of Literature-in-English for students who have successfully attended a six-year secondary education or post-primary education in Nigeria.
The course hopes to, among other things inculate a sense of literary appreciation, composition, essay writing and criticism.
Similarly, this course is meant to prepare students for university education in literature or related field of study. As always, literature is taught with the objective of the improvement of competence in the use of English Language by subscribers.
Definition of Literature
There are several definition of Literature. Even though it is sufficient to consider literature as an art, which uses language as its medium, it is necessary to cite one or two.
The word literature comes from the Greek word “Literati”. It means a study that concern itself with the representation of the whole range of human life and activities in prose, poetry or dramatic form.
By thus we mean that literature reproduces in artistic form, actual events, the doings and sayings of actual persons. It is the record of the condition of man as the writer views it.
The student Dictionary defines literature as follows
The written or printed production of the human mind collectively.
Written works, which deal with themes of permanent and universal interest, characterized by creativeness and grace of expression, as poetry, fiction essays, etc. distinguished from works of scientific, technical or journalistic nature, belles-lettres.
The writing that pertain to a particular epoch, country, language, subject or branch of learning: ancient literature, the literature of chemistry.
Literature could be oral or written, however, either ways, literature as a course is associated with human
Imagination, creativity and the art of creation and make-belief arts
Characteristics of Literature
Literature is characterized by certain qualities, namely;
Setting and Background
Characters and Action
Conflict and Resolution
Style or Technique
All literary works, be they poetry, drama or prose-fiction, use language. Thus, we have literatures attached to our language, namely Russian Literature, Hausa Literature, French Literature and Yoruba Literature.
This confirms that literature and affects that literature could be in two forms: written and oral. Either way, literature is conveyed via a language, so much so that we could say literature is a figure of speech that derives its inspiration from language.
The second most essential quality of literature is that it is imaginative, its mere creation or representation is a testimony of man’s inherent and ingenuity.
For literary works are not necessary true but merely and deliberately constructed to excite, thrill, create suspense and entertain. It therefore shows man’s intellect and control of special communication skills.
Literature always depends on human reality, thus, all literary works depict human second situation. Thus, literature is like a mirror, which reflects our actual lives.
Literature, for instance, borrows also from history; and relies on every day events. The creators of literature (poets, authors, and playwright) are engaged in the process of adapting, inventing and creating life situations to sustain the make belief, the suspense that is one of the key ingredients of literature.
Finally, literature is also characterized by the aesthetics or pleasure and edification. The essence of all literature is to entertain, to please the audience or reader, and through the special literary communication, covey views on life, on life, and thereby educate the reader.
Genres of Literature
An inspired writer who wants to put down the pressures of his feelings must commit himself to a definite form. The forms of literature can be summarized under three bold groups or classes. There are called genres, and are conventionally:
So, conventionally literature exists in three genres as stated above. A genre is therefore any of the several types or groups of literary writings; it is a practical means of classifying literature into different entities.
Prose fiction is any types of writing which is in prose and which borders between fantasy and reality or history.
The language of prose fiction is the closet to the ordinary language of everyday communication. We have three sub-genres (minor branches) of prose fiction, which are The short story, novella, and novel.
Prose fiction as a phase explains the nature of writing as full expressions in continuous prose of an untrue story. Fiction is the art of creation and imagination, which invents stories.
Fiction therefore means an untrue story told in prose, the word fiction is derived from latin verb meaning “to invent” or “to pretend”. It means literary speaking, any made up prose story, long or short.
Fiction tells an untrue story in prose. Fiction is “untrue” in the sense that it is dependent on imaginative people and imaginary events.
When a story is told in lines of verse, it is poetry. When it is intended to be acted out on the stage, it is drama.
When it is intended to be factually true – that is, openly and consistently based on actual character and events – we call it non-fiction and classify it under headings like biography, autobiography and historical analysis.
The word drama comes from the act of performance. Drama is one of the three genres of literature. One feature, which distinguishes it from the other genres, in its exploration of human experience, is in doing of such, by way of dramatization or acting. In prose, demonstrated already, stories are told by the use of narration.
While it is correct to say that a work of prose is deemed to have achieved its purpose once it is published and read, this cannot be said about a play text or a piece of drama that is published.
A drama text is only fully realized when it is acted on stage. It is worthy however, that both drama and prose are united in their portrayal of human issues and concern with a view to entertaining and educating their audience and readers alike.
Drama is story through action, through enactment, recreation and imitation. Drama almost always means limitation. Drama is that form of literary writing intended primarily for presentation by performers speaking and acting on stage.
Drama is characterized by the following: it is a “dramatic act” in the sense that it has role playing and imitation; it has a strong visual component; it is an auditory art; it could be physically produced on a stage.
A play comes closest to real life in literary manifestations because its characters live and move as real people do. The characters have feelings and face problems, just as people in real do.
A play entertains because we enjoy the sights, sounds and action of the play. Most good plays are instructive, that is, they teach some lessons, at least, they make us see everyday problems in a new light by showing how characters deal with such problems.
A poem has been defined as a ‘highly ordered artistic creation, a cumulative verbal entity’ through which a poet expresses a vision of life, hidden to the less imagination.
Poetry deals with the experiences both imagination and physical in a peculiar way than prose. Our study will strive towards identifying the general description of what the poem may be said to be about and also provide a basic context for the poem:
- Stanza arrangement
- Tone and Images
- Profound ideas (themes) highlighted