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Study of Literature

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Advanced Book Search Browse by Subject. Find Antiquarian Books Book Value. Sign up to receive offers and updates: Subscribe. All Rights Reserved. Nowadays the list of possible types and literature genres can seem endless. But it is still possible to narrow down the vast amount of literature available into a few basic groups. The five genres of literature students should be familiar with are Poetry, Drama, Prose, Nonfiction, and Media —each of which is explained in more detail below.

This is often considered the oldest form of literature. Before writing was invented, oral stories were commonly put into some sort of poetic form to make them easier to remember and recite.


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Poetry today is usually written down but is still sometimes performed. A lot of people think of rhymes and counting syllables and lines when they think of poetry, and some poems certainly follow strict forms. But other types of poetry are so free-form that they lack any rhymes or common patterns. There are even kinds of poetry that cross genre lines, such as prose poetry. In general, though, a text is a poem when it has some sort of meter or rhythm , and when it focuses on the way the syllables, words, and phrases sound when put together.

1. Iambic Pentameter

Poems are heavy in imagery and metaphor and are often made up of fragments and phrases rather than complete, grammatically correct sentences. And poetry is nearly always written in stanzas and lines, creating a unique look on the page. Poetry, as experienced in the classroom, is usually one of three types. There are the shorter, more modern poems, spanning anything from a few lines to a few pages. Often these are collected in books of poems by a single author or by a variety of writers.

And finally, there are the ancient, epic poems transcribed from oral stories. The most typical varieties of prose are novels and short stories, while other types include letters, diaries, journals, and non-fiction also discussed below. Prose is written in complete sentences and organized in paragraphs. Instead of focusing on sound, which is what poetry does, prose tends to focus on plot and characters. Prose is the type of literature read most often taught in English classrooms.


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  • Some of these genres revolve around the structure of the text, such as novellas, biographies, and memoirs, and others are based on the subject matter, like romances, fantasies, and mysteries. Students respond best to dramas, and grasp their mechanics more fully when exposed to film or theater versions or encouraged to read aloud or act out scenes during class.

    The dramas most commonly taught in classrooms are definitely those written by the bard.

    Understanding the elements of literature : its forms, techniques and cultural conventions

    Popular choices from his repertoire include Hamlet , Taming of the Shrew , and Romeo and Juliet , among others. Poetry and drama both belong to the broader category of fiction —texts that feature events and characters that have been made up. Then there is non-fiction, a vast category that is a type of prose and includes many different sub-genres.

    Non-fiction can be creative, such as the personal essay, or factual, such as the scientific paper.