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Is It English Literature or Literature in English?

Is It English Literature or Literature in English? Are your asking yourself this question right now? Worry not, we have an explanation here that will bring you to see the clearcut difference between the above-mentioned terms.

The terms English literature and literature in English seem some what similar and usually confuse many.

Some wonder if one is wrong whereas the other the correct word to say. let us find out whether there is any difference between English literature and literature in English or if one isn’t the right thing to say at all.

But What about English Literature and Literature in English? Some people keep asking themselves if either one or the other is the correct subject.

To throw some light on this, we will make you, first of all, understand what literature is.

Quick definitions and notes


Literature refers to written works, especially those considered of superior or lasting artistic merit. In other words, It is any collection of written or oral work, but it more commonly and narrowly refers to writings specifically considered to be an art form, especially prose fiction, drama, and poetry, in contrast to academic writing and newspapers.

Literature is generally defined as writing with artistic merit. However, other types of text such as screenplays, nonfiction, song lyrics, and online communication through blogs and other means, could now be considered literature under the contemporary understanding of the term.[1]

The name has traditionally been applied to those imaginative works of poetry and prose distinguished by the intentions of their authors and the perceived aesthetic excellence of their execution.

Literature is a broad term and has many sub-branches referring to the literature of a country or a chronological period.[2]

Country-wise, we have for example American literature, French literature, English literature, etc.

On the other hand, chronological period-wise, we have Old literature, Classical literature, Victorian literature, modern literature, etc., on larger geographical area-wise, western literature, eastern literature, South Asian literature, etc.

So, now the big question, It is English Literature or Literature in English?

English Literature and Literature in English

Since Literature can be written in any language, one might say English Literature for example is Literature written in English. But this isn’t exactly it.

The two terms, English Literature and Literature in English are correct and not do not exactly mean the same.

English Literature

All literary works that are written in England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, British colonies, including the United States of America are globally referred to as English Literature (Literature from English Speaking countries one could say).

Furthermore, based on the chronological periods, English literature is divided into several eras such as Old English literature (c.658-1100), Middle English literature (1100–1500), English Renaissance (1500–1660), Neo-Classical Period (1660–1798), 19th-century literature, English literature since 1901 which includes modern, post-modern, and 20th-century literature.

Again, If Literature can be country-specific, then English Literature can also have sub-branches, for example, American Literature.

Literature in English

With different great artist and writters increasing all around the Globe, literary works are being written in many different languages.

Any Literary work written in other language but can be translated into English is known as Literature in English. This type if Literature is what is being studied here in Cameroon and many other English speaking countries.

Now the differences

• English literature refers to the literary works written in Great Britain and British colonies whereas literature in English refers to literary works from all over the world written in any other language.

• English literature is written in English language while literature in English is written in other languages but is translated into English language.

• English literature mainly reflects the English culture, while literature in English mirrors diverse cultures.

Written by Infos Education

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Advanced Level Literature in English Paper 3 June 2020

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