What Literature Is Not

Literature by definition refers to works which are available in written form and have a lasting artistic merit. Literature has been in existence for the longest possible, with some individuals like William Shakespeare being touted as the fathers of literature. It is one of the fields that have been used in the past and the present to achieve different purposes. These include advocating for social change, teaching in school and even for entertainment. The beauty of literature is that it can be presented in direct and in indirect format. Direct form is the type whose meaning can be understood by reading it directly. There are other forms of literature written metaphorically and thus require a keen interpretation in order to understand the message being conveyed.. Further definitions of literature are divided into fiction and non-fiction. It can also be presented in prose form or through poetry. Literature is distinguishable in different forms such as novels, short stories and dramatic events which usually are classified as per the historical periods in which they occurred. Other printed material which are informative or for purposes of advertisements as well as books are also considered as literature However, not all printed material portrays literature.

Non literature material is all material which does not fall in line with narrative forms; these include graphic or comical novels. Electronic literature comprises of all material which is stored or originates in a digital format. In some cases, literature may be available in both written prose form such as books as well as in films and other audio-visual broadcast media format. Graphic novels and comic books may be confused to be literature since their producers make an effort at storytelling. They are performed in sequence with text, dialogue and artwork which gives a graphic depiction of the works. However, such graphical narratives and comic books do not qualify as literature due to some fundamental reasons hereby discussed.

In distinguishing between literary and nonliterary material, metaphors and symbolism are important aspects of differentiation since the styles when used signify deeper meaning which are embedded within the texts with these techniques being important in the roles played. Comic books are usually devoid of the use of stylistic devices such as symbolism and metaphors in their design. Therefore, this is one reason as to why they are not considered to be literature. Texts which contain metaphors or symbolism help in the interpretation of literal and figurative meanings which help in accommodation of themes which are layered and have deeper meaning. Also inclusive in literary material are the chronological elements of literature as well as psychological characterization which help in formation of ideas and other important aspects of literature.

Non-literary articles can be differentiated from literary material through the different characteristics displayed by the material under study. There is need for differentiation of the material especially by individuals studying literature. Literary and non-literary material in a context of classical studies of literature are in reference to stylistic elements where a distinction which is important to enable establishment of careers for those who wish to pursue literary writing.  Literary material by definition comprises of detail in the use of literary devices such as symbolism and metaphors. These are some of the fundamental elements lacking in comic books and similar illustrations.

Psychological characterization is an element which leads to the character being made more important as compared to their actions focuses on development and exposure of the emotional, cognitive and mental processes which can help in building or curtailing of relationships as well as them bringing emotions such as despair, happiness and motivation. Comics usually fail to bring out this aspect in their nature therefore being reason as to why they are not considered to be literature. In many cases, comic books and similar illustrations they are too skimpy on metaphorical or symbolic content and their main aim is to entertain the readers.

In literature, there is usually an ease in the identification of thematic elements and if there are any themes which can be achieved form the stories they are usually direct as compared to moral gain being achieved. The chronology of the nonliterary pieces is usually from real life experiences where in between narration flashbacks can be provided for and in the event of a back-story to help in giving insight. The character in nonliterary narratives is outweighed by the action and events which occur and their development and physical depth is somewhat neglected.

The characteristics which are distinguishable in literature show a variation and differences in fiction and nonfiction stories. Non-fiction literature in its representation is represented by autobiographies and biographies which are seen to be in pursuit of exploration of metaphors and symbols which for understanding of universal human characteristics are suggested by real life events and occurrences. Chronology as a tool can be used in exploration of associated events and relationships on a wider scale. Psychological understanding can help in bringing out the depth of the narrative. This leads to the inner motives being revealed in the literature. In contrast, comic books fail to bring out this aspect. The wording used is usually direct and does not require any kind of interpretation to understand any hidden meaning.

Comics are usually in non-fiction form and in literature terms, most genres which are popular are categorized under nonliterary material. Literary or creative nonfiction has characteristics such as it using techniques of setting of scenes, aside character voices a different and distinct voice of the author or narrator to create a dialogue which then advances to form the story.

Roger Ebert who is an expert in visual media embraces that all material written or visual can be considered as literature with material such as comic books and video games and being an exception. His reason is that comics and video games do not qualify to be categorized as literature due to the structural choices which arise when the materials are put into use. In his definition and explanation of his deductive reasoning, he states that good literature comprises of authorial control all through the piece of literature from beginning to end, therefore, literature ceases being a pick a path adventure as seen in lots of reading material picked out by many young adults. In the case of comic books, authorial control is not necessarily required.  In definition of what literature comprises of and what it entails, one can be able to identify the reasons why comics are not considered to be literature. Comics are seen to fail to conform to literary styles and thus should not be considered as literature.