Question Ciaran Art, Media & Literature

Literary Texts

What is a literary text?

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Answer Internal Staff

In the field of literary studies, a text is, broadly speaking, any object or phenomenon deriving significant artistic or cultural value from a composition of words within it. This will commonly take the form of written material, often fictional or lyrical – in novels, poetry, printed drama etc. – but oral phenomena may often be covered on courses too – such as poetry or plays in performance, or spoken storytelling (as is a key tradition in many cultures without a long history of writing, and is being increasingly promoted as an object for literary study to grant such cultures greater parity of academic esteem in a move away from old pedagogical canons). Increasingly over recent academic history there have been further expansions to the notion of a text, beyond those objects which are the creation of conscious literary design, incorporating many different cases where words combine in a way which is interesting and can be subjected to discussion, analysis and criticism – found poetry is a prominent example of this.

Commonly encountered literary texts can be broadly divided into the forms of prose, poetry and plays.