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The H Word: Reveling in the Literary

Nightmare Magazine, October 2013

I normally tell my students beginning an essay with a dictionary definition is a cheap fix and they should try something else first. Nonetheless, I note the following definitions of “literature” from the Free Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary: “writings in prose or verse, especially: writings having excellence of form or expression and expressing ideas of permanent or universal interest . . . an example of such writings . . . the body of writings on a particular subject . . . printed matter.”

It’s a vexing, problematic word, both floor wax and dessert topping, to borrow from the early days of Saturday Night Live.