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Thread: Hello!

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Hi, My name is Yuearian, a long time lurker who has decided to step out from the shadows! I am a third year university student and am currently taking a course on critical theory. We are reading Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Dante, Shelley, etc and trying to find our own definition of literature. I love LOTR and The Hobbit and would define them as literature but should they be called literature or simply a work of fiction? I'm still trying to find my own definition but to me something that resonates with you, that can stand the test of time, cross barriers of time, culture, countries, etc and still have some sort of meaning, provoking thought, interest, and discussion. It certainly helps if the work is entertaining and well written. How would you define literature? Does Tolkien's works count as literature? Is it on the same level as say The Iliad, The Canterbury Tales, The Divine Comedy, Wuthering Heights, or [insert any great work of fiction here]? What purpose does literature serve in our modern society? To teach? To entertain? Any thoughts would be much appreciated!