Introduction to the study of Literature-In-English

In general Literature means “Written language” – everything that is “written” and this includes texts produced in disciplines such as Law, Science, Sports, Religion, History, Economics, Technology e.t.c.


What is literature as a subject of study? 

Literature is a creative or imaginative work of art that is produced by a novelist, poet, or playwright. It minors the society.


English Literature and Literature-In-English

English Literature is generally seen as beginning with the epic poem Beowulf that dates from between the 8th to the 11th centuries the most famous work in Old English, which has achieved national epic status in England, despite being Scandinavia. On the other hand, Literature In English focuses on literary works from other British colonies, including the U.S.


Reasons for the study of Literature

(Aims and Objective)

  1. We can vicariously travel to other places, even outer space
  2. We can learn from the profound thinkers of the world
  3. We can learn to express ourselves better in writing
  4. We can increase our vocabulary
  5. We can divert ourselves from our daily problems
  6. We can be entertained, laugh and be amused
  7. We can be lifted to a higher (more noble) emotional level
  8. We can be lifted to a higher (more noble) moral level
  9. We can fantasize and develop our imaginations 
  10. We can go on exciting adventures
  11.  We can learn more about a society and ourselves


What is Literary Appreciation?

Literary Appreciation means the analysis, criticism and understanding of literature.

Thus, if you discuss the meaning of a piece of poem, write an essay on it or analyses it, that is Literary Appreciation.


Class Work

  1. Explain the term Literary Appreciation
  2. Mention 11 reasons for studying Literature





Literature in this sense is generally grouped under three main genres: poetry, prose, and drama. Each of these genre has certain features that make it distinctive from others; and it is how these features are deployed by the muter that attracts the attention of the reader in his or her appreciation of the work.


What is Prose? 

Prose is used to describe all discourses written or spoken, which are not patterned into metric forms. Some regard prose as the language of everyday speech and writing. Fictional writing are generally described as prose because they deal with narrative experience that are invented or contrived.


Characteristics of Prose

The following are the features of prose:

  1. Straightforward ordinary language
  2. Usually in complete sentences
  3. Usually divided into paragraphs
  4. A prose does not usually have a regular rhythmic pattern 
  5. The use of narrative technique


The Elements of Prose Fiction

  1. Theme:The theme is the general idea of a story. Theme is the Central massage.
  2. Setting: Is the information of the where the story occur and the time of the story. Setting also include a content (especially society) beyond the surrounding of the story, like culture, historical period (date), geography and occupation 
  3. Plot:Is the sequence of events.
  4. Point of view: Is the different angle to see the subject
  5. Character and Characterization: Character is an individual (usually a person) who play in a story. Characterization is the method used by the writer to develop a character.
  6. Symbols: Is the language style used by the author.
  7. Atmosphere:Is the condition and emotion in a story


Type of Prose

  1. Picaresque Novel (Pik-ã-resx):In the strict sense, a novel with a picaroon (Spanish, Picarõ; a rogue or scoundrel) as its hero or heroine, usually recounting his or her escapades in a first-person narrative named by its episode structure and realistic low-life descriptions. The picaroon is often a quick-mitted servant also takes up with a succession of employers. E.g. Adventures of Hucmeberry Finn (1884) by Mark Twain, Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanwer(1722)
  2. Epistolary Novel: This is a novel that is written in the form of a series of letters exchanged among the characters of the story with extracts from their journals sometimes included it is a form of narrative that is used in the English and French novels of the 18th centuries e.g Richardson’s Pamela (1740-1) and Clamssa. Rousseau’s La nouvelle Heloise
  3. Historical Novel:A novel in which the action takes place during a specific historical period well before a specific historical period well before the time of writing. (Often one or two generations before, sometimes several centuries) and in which some attempts is made to depict accurately the customs and mentality of the period. E.g. Walter Scott Waveley (1814), Victor Hugo’s Notre Dame de Paris (1831)
  4. Gothic Novel (or Gothic Romance):A story of terror and suspense, usually set in a gloomy old castle or monastery (hence “cothic”, a term applied to medieval architecture and thus associated in the 18th century with superstition) e.g Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto (1764), Ann RadclitteMysteries of Udolpho (1794)
  5. Campus Novel: Is a novel, usually comic or sativical, in which the action is set within the enclosed world of a university (or similar seat of learning) and highlights the follies of academic life. e.g. Mary Miccarthy’s The Groves of Academe (1952), Kingsley Amis’s Lucky Jim (1954).


Class Work

  1. Explain the following types of Novels
  1. Picaresque Novel
  2. Gothic Novel
  3. Historical Novel





  • What is Friction?

This is the general term for invented stories, now usually applied to novels, short stories, novellus, romances, fabled and other narrative works in prose, even though most plays and narrative poems are also fictional.

Example of Friction

  1. Fable:Fable is a brief tale in verse or prose that conveys a moral lesson, usually by going human speech and manners to animals and inanimate things e.g George or well’s Animal Farm (1945), Thurber Fable of our Time (1940).
  2. Allegory:Allegory is a story or visual image with a second district meaning, partially hidden behind its literal or The Pigrim’s Progress (1678) visible meaning. e.g John Bunjam

Note that the principal technique of allegory is Personification, whereby abstract qualities are given human shape as in public status of liberty or Justice.

  1. Parables:Parables is a brief tale intended to be understood as an allegory illustrating some lesson or moral. Remember that Jesus spoke or gave out 40 parables. This has a listing influence upon the writer tradition of didactic allegory e.g. John Steinbeck’s The Pearl (1948)
  2. Romance:Is a fictional story in verse or prose that related improbable adventures of idealizer characters in some remote or enchanted setting; or more generally a tenvrey in fiction opposite to that of realism e.g. Edmund spenser’sThe FacrieQueene (1590-6) and Sir Philip Sivney’s prose romance Arcavia (1590).
  3. Folktales: A story passed on by word of mouth rather than by writing, and thus party modified by successive re-telling before being written down or recorded.
  4. Novella: A fictional tale in prose, intermediate in length and complexity between a short story and a novel, and usually concentrating on a single event or chain of events, with a surprising turning point. e.g Joseph Conraw’sHeart of Darkness  (1902)  
  5. Short Story:A frictional prose tale no specified length, but too short to be published as a volume, on its own as novellas sometimes and novels usually are a Short Story will normally concentrate on a single event with only one or two characters, more economically than a novel’s sustained exploration of Social background short stories flourished in the magazines of 19th and early 20th centuries especially in U.S.A.
  6. Novel: Is nearly always an extended fictional prose narrative although some novels are very short, some are non-fictional, some have been written in verse, and some do not even tell a story. Novel is the most important literary genie of the modern Age. e.g. William Gowing.

  • What is Non-Friction?

Non-Fiction is the branch of literature comprising works of narrative prose dealing with or offering opinions or conjectures upon facts and reality, including biography, history, essays, autobiography, criticism, travel


Examples of Non-Friction

  1. Biography:A written account of another persons life e.g. The biography of Byron by Marchland
  2. Autobiography:A history of a person’s life written or told by that person e.g adventures, bio, diary, journal, letters, experience, memoir, reminiscences, self-portrangal confession.
  3. Essay:This is a story written composition in prose that discusses a subject or proposes an argument without claiming to be a complete or through exposition e.gFracisBacon,s Essays (1597) Began the tradition of essay in English, D.H. Lawrence
  4. Criticism:Is the reasoned discussion of literary works, an activity which may include some of all the following  procedures, in varying proportions: the detene of literature against moralists and censors, classification of a work according to it genie, interpretation of its meaning, analysis of its structures and style, judgment of its worth by comparison with other works, estimation of its likely effect on readers, and the establishment of general principles by which literary works (individually, in category, or as a whole) can be evaluated and understood


Class Work     

  1. What is Non-Friction
  2. Write short note(s) on the 6 examples of Friction





  1. Plot:The plot usually refers to the sequence of events and happening that make up a story. There is usually a pattern, unintended or intentional, that threads the plot together. The plot basically refers to the main outcome and order of story. There is another view of plot in literature as well; it refers to the conflict or clash occurring as a part of the story. The conflict usually follows 3 regular formats which are:
  1. Characters in conflict with one another
  2. Characters in conflict with their surroundings
  3. Characters in conflict with themselves
  1. Setting:This is an element of prose narrative. The word “setting” is used to identify and establish the time, place, and mood of the events of the story. It basically helps in establishing where and when and under what circumstances the story is taking place.

Example:In the first installment of the Harry Potter series, a large part of the book takes place at the protagonist, Harry’s aunt’s and uncles’s place, living in the “muggle” (non-magical) wor with the “muggle” folks, and Harry is unaware of his magical capabilities and blood.

  1. Narrative Technique:In narrative technique we consider the point of view. The point of view is a literary device that depicts the manner in which a story is narrated or depicted and who it is that tells the story. The point of view determines the angle and perception of the story unfolding, and thus influence the tone in which the story takes place. The point of view is instrumental in manipulating the reader’s understanding of the narrative. In a way, the points of view can allow or withholdthe reader access into the greater reaches of the story.
  1. First person narrative point of view:Here the story is told by the narrator from his or her standpoint.
  2. Third person narrative essay of view:Here the narrator does not figure in the events of the story and tells the story by retaining to all characters and places in the third person with third person pronouns and proper nouns.


Class Work

  1. Write a short note on the following element of prose using your own understanding
  2. Plot
  3. Setting
  4. Narrative technique 


WEEK 5 & 6



The third genie of Literature is Prose. Prose which is a literacy piece expressed in ordinary and straight forward language other than in Verse. A writer of Prose is known as PROSE MAN or PROSAIST. The chief character in prose or any literacy piece is known as AGONIST. If any literacy work is short, it is known as MARCEAU. And if the literacy piece is geared towards securing the basic necessaries of life e.g Food and Cloth, it is known as POT BOILER. And is a literacy piece is a short pointing out morals, it is called EXEMPLUM. But if the story is on grotesque (strange) Phenomenon  or incredible situations, it is known as TALL STORY or FAIRY TALE. And if a prose man uses a technique to describe events that are yet to take place in the story, the device is known generally in the literacy circle, be it prose or play, as FORESHADOWING which resembles prophecy. But if a story is narrated or written in a humorous scorn or jibe of a situation, we then could describe it as a SARCASTIC HUMOUR. And while writing or composing his/her piece, if the writer imitates another writer with a view to mocking him/her, such is known as PARODY

A good example of a prose is NOVEL – A novel is defined as a long prose narrative with a wide range of characters and experience. When the prose narrative is a short novel, it is known as a NOVELETTE. And when it is a short story often about an event, it is called a NOVELLA /NOVELLE.

Generally, a writer of novels is a NOVELIST who might write his novel in form of a letter – This is EPISTOLARY e.g. Mariama Ba’s “So Long A Letter”. When a story is short but not bounded an fact, it is referred to as a FABLE. The story could as well be a biographical sketch of somebody, which is called a MEMOIR



  1. Argumentative: This refers to a passage in which the prose and cons of an issue are presented with the aid of arriving at a logical solution 
  2. Discipline: This refers to a prose passage in which events persons, places and things are given full exposure or simply described 
  3. Dramatic: This refers to a passage in which persons (Characters) speak one after the other in form of dialogue 
  4. Expository: This term refers to a passage in which the presentation aims at clarifying, explaining and interpreting the subject. 
  5. Narrative: The word, “Narrative” means a story and so the prose narrative is a passage which is aimed at presenting a well defined story. 
  6. Technical or Scientific: This refers to a passage in which a specific or technical subject is presented. The language of such a presentation often contains a special vocabulary which is found only in the discussion of the subject. 



Fiction” is a word derived from the Latin word “Facio” meaning “I make”. Thus, fiction can therefore mean that which does not truly happen and so is made to look as if it really happened e.g”Arrow at God” by Chinua Achebe, ‘Mayor of Caster bridge’ by Thomas Hardy. Some of the things that happen in fiction can as well happen in real life but the story in the fiction is imaginary and therefore is fictitious. There is another aspect of fiction called Romance. In Romance, things happen in the novel is impossible to happen in the real world. 

Non-Fiction: Is the       opposite of fiction. It is the record of real life situation which actually took place sometime about somebody. This non-fiction can be autobiography – which tells the story of the author by the author himself. Or it can tell the story of a person by another author – Biography.



  1. The use of idioms and proverbs: Writers often use idioms and proverbs to highlight or beautify a passage. Idioms of expression which are peculiar to the language in which they are found. They have well known meanings which are culturally, other than linguistically determined. For example: 
  1. I was given the nod for the job (I was offered) (Idiomatic use) 
  2. We must ensure a quick dispensation of justice this time because justice delayed is justice denied (Proverbial Utterance) 
  1. Paragraph (the): This is a service by which writers present a group of ideas in separate, composite units in a logical order. Paragraphs are marked off by indentation of initials words in a line or by double space margins. Traditionally a paragraph focuses on one independent idea which \it develop 
  2. (The use of) Sentence: Simply put, sentence is a group          of inter-related words consisting of a subject and predicate conveying a complete thought or emotion. There are three main types of sentences which are: Simple sentences (one clause) Complex Sentence (having one main Clause and one or two subordinate clauses) and the Compound sentences (Containing two or more main clauses and one or more subordinate clauses. A sentence can be a statement, question, command, an exclamation or a salutation. 
  3. Slang (use of): This refers to colloquial use of words phrases in a text. Slangs features in literacy writing only as part of dialogue. For example: the coppers are all over the town (police) 
  4. Narrative Technique: This refers to the way a writer chooses to prevent his story as part of his style. Often, narrative technique is identified with the nature of the speaking voice in the tent. The latter can take one of the following form:
  1. Third person or Omniscient voice (an all seeing, objective voice. For example: Hardy’s novel or Achebe’s) 
  2. First person narrative voice (subjective speaker who directly addresses the reader; an example is Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe and Oxara’sThe Voice) 
  3. Epistolary (a highly subjective, personal voice in form of a letter. An example is Ba’s So Long A Letter). 



Answer all questions 

  1. (a) Define the term Prose? 

(b) Who is a Prose man ?

(c) When do we have a sarcastic humour? 



  1. What is fiction and Non-fiction? 
  2. Write a short note on the features or characteristics of prose 





Poetry is a branch of Literature and it is a collection of poems. 

What is a poem? Poem is a feeling expressed in imaginative language and in deep thought. The person that writes poem is a Poet while the female counterpart is a Poetess.

According to wordsworth, poetry is defined as an overflow of spontaneous emotions recaptured in tranquility. 

Poetry is about beauty, passion, rhythm and grace therein in any emotional expression. Poetry must have rhythmic pattern because it is a rhythmic grace present in all creation, inspired, the poet conceptualizes or imagines an idea, based on an object, an incident an aspect of it. He uses words, phrases, poetic devices like figures of speech and imageries to concretize this idea in a poem. He arranges the word in a systematic pattern to achieve rhythm, harmony, symmetry and grace. With these, he/she    creates a vivid picture of         his/her idea for the enlightment and entertainment of his/her audience. 


Characteristics of poetry

  1. Atmosphere: This refers to the psychological impact    of the poem on the reader. A poem’s atmosphere is the combined effect of its tone and mood which elicit the reader’s response. The nature of the poem’s subject matter and its overall presentation by the poet determine its tone and mood and help in building its atmosphere. 
  2. Couplet: This refers to the presentation of two rhyming line, often of equal length in a poem. The rhyme scheme for a couplet in aa, bb, etc
  3. Mood: This refers to the state of mind of the poet person which the reader perceives or assumes from the tone of the poem. The poems subject matter is presented as “clothed” in the perceived mood 
  4. Enjambment: This term originates from the French word which means “Flowing into”. It refers to the continuation of the meaning in a line of a poem into another. Enjambment often features in the free verse, but sometimes it also occurs in rhymed verse. 
  5. Tone: This refers to something like a voice from inside the poem which conveys the state of mind of the poet – person. The feelings of happiness, anger, sorrow, sarcasm, resignation, e.t.c. can be conveyed to the reader of a poem by its tone. The impact of the tone becomes the mood of the poem. 
  6. Quatrain: This term refers to four rhyming lines of a poem 
  7. Triplet: This term to three arranged rhyming lines in a poem  



Answer the following questions 

  1. How did Wordsworth define poetry?
  2. Write short note on the following: 
  1. Atmosphere 
  2. Tone 
  3. Mood 



Write out all the various characteristics of poetry in your own words. 





  1. Ballad: The word, ballad is derived from a Latin word “ballare” meaning “to dance”. It comprises words which are out of current use. The poem derived from village festivals and are not often written but handed down orally from generation to generation. The themes are based on popular stories or legends and great village heroes. We have two(2) types of ballad and they are (1) Traditional ballad: Which exists mainly if stories told by word of mouth  (II) Literacy ballad: Which is a written type e.g. “The rhyme of the Ancient Mariner” written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge 
  2. Elegy/ Dirge: This developed from Greek word “elegos”    meaning, a lament, a song of mourning, a sorrowful event like the death of a bossom friend. E.g. “Lycida” by Milton or “In memoriam” by Tennyson. Elegy or dirge may also bbe an expression of regret for the past or pessimistic fears for the future, or a solemn meditation on humanity like “Elegy written in a Country Church yard” by Thomas Gray. 
  3. Didantic Poem: This is a type of poem that conveys an instruction or points out or teaches a moral. A well knowndidantic poem is Alexander Pope’s “Essay an Nlan”
  4. Epic:  An epic derived from a Greek Word “Epos” meaning, a word, is a long poem narrating the heroic deeds of a people, or great men; the epic normally has a hero who is an epitome of flame, nobility and strength of character. E.g “milton’s “paradise Lost”, Homer’s Odyssey” or “Wole Soyinka’s” idaure”. 
  5. Narrative Poem: This  is a long poem, that tells a story, examples are “the Myth of the Bagre”
  6. Ode:  An ode is a poem written or spoken in the form of an address to somebody or something. Usually used to mark a special occasion. An Odist, that is the writer of odes, is usually nostalgis and he/she thinks of or wants something that is either far away or are gone. E.g Wordsworth’s “Ode to Duty” Coffin’s “Ode to Evening” and shally’s ode to the West Wind”
  7. Chant: Is mosly a religion song or a prayer. It is a way of singing using only oew notes that are repeated many times. e.gciregorian chant is a type of church music for voices alone and it is being used since the middle ages 
  8. Incantation: Are special words or sacred words that are spoken or sung to have a magic effect and the act of speaking or singing these words – Ogun incantation
  9. Recitation: Is an act of singing a creative literary piece (poetry) that you have learned to an audience. It is mostly oral and unwritten.


Class Work

  1. What is the difference between and clergy and an Epic?          





Drama is defined as a penetration of life through artificial means. It is an imitation of an action. It is a type of story that exists mainly in action and performed on the stage by different characters. The origins of Drama are likely to be found in early religions ceremonies and festivals. This aspect of literature entertains, teaches moral lessons and helps to bring into focus life-in-action outside our immediate environment. The characters in a play are called actors.


Features of Drama

  1. Local Colour:This is the feature of drama which emphasizes the customs, norms, values and setting of the play.
  2. Dialogue:This reveals the minds of the characters, it has action and also is designed for theatre, it must have actors who could impersonate characters and perform the action
  3. Flash back:This is a device where a scene recalls an event in the past
  4. Protagonist:This is the main character of the play through whom the playwright said his message. He/She is also called the hero or heroine of the play
  5. Antagonist: This Greek original form which this term is coined means “rival” In drama, the term refers to the main opponent of the play’s central character or hero known as the protagonist with whom their paths cross and re-cross in the course of the events. In other words, the antagonist is the character who opposes the protagonist
  6. Suspense: This term refers to a device in plays and friction as well by which the reader- audience’s anxiety about unfolding events is raised and left unresolved until the end of the dramatic action or denouement. Curiosity about audience guessing and therefore glued, as it were, to the feet or stage to the end
  7. Cast:The cast IS the complete list of all actors scheduled to appear in the performance of a play.
  8. Auditor: This refers to a theatre practice in which actors of a play are selected to play specific assigned roles in the performance.
  9. Soliloquies:When a character is said to be soliloquizing



  1. Tragedy:In a tragedy drama, the most important character (Hero) has a lot of good qualities which endear him to the people but he/she also has some negative traits or weakness, which causes his/her failure and downfall, (tragic flaw) which also bring some serious troubles that makes him/her lose his/her life or his/her power. e.g. Macbeth by William Shakespeare, The God’s are not to be Blame by Ola-Rotimi
  2. Comedy: This is a play where the story and the characters are amusing and which ends happily.
  3. Tragic-Comedy:This is a mixture of tragedy and comedy and a tragic-comedy is a drama where we are happy on one side but sad on the other.



Characterization his to do with the description, representation and analysis of the various characters in a play/novel. It means the way in which the author/playwright presents or portrays his characters.


Types of Character

  1. Static Characters:They hardly change in a play/novel or play and considerable role. They neither move nor change position throughout the novel/play. The opposites of static character is dynamic character
  2. Dynamic Character: These are the characters that change with time and with different experience throughout the novel/play. Most of the times, they grow from ignorance to maturity as the plot advances.
  3. Round Character: They are like dynamic characters hence we are able to be presented with their bad and good traits.
  4. Minor-Character:Is a character that features regularly in a novel
  5. Flat Character:Who are at times called Caricature; they maintain only one side in the novel/play. They are stable and static, because they maintain same values, attitudes, ontholee.t.c. from the start to the end of the story

Note that the three(3) main ways to determine and assess a character in a play or novel are:

  1. What a person does 
  2. What he says of himself/herself
  3. What other say about him/her


Class Work

Write short note on the following:

  1. Dynamic character
  2. Flat character 
  3. Round character



  1. How do the following terms feature in a given dramatic presentation?
  1. Flashback
  2. Dialogue
  3. Suspense
  1. What are the forms of drama

Third Term SS 1 Literature Lesson Notes




This is the passing on from one generation (and/or Locality) to another of songs, charts, proverbs and other version compositions within and between non-literate cultures; or the accumulated stock of works thus transmitted by word of mouth. Ballade, Folktales, and the works emerging from an oral tradition will often be found in several different versions, because each performance is a fresh improvisation based around a ‘core’ of narrative incidents and dramatic phrases. The state of dependence on the spoken word in and cultures is known as Orality.

Folklore:Is a dictations stay embodying beliefs, traditions, superstitions, motions, customs, prejudices and observance of a people. Folklore is composed of oral traditions transmitted by word of mouth. The story teller as a creative writer paints a picture of a time. Life situation and makes use of elements of drama viz. Characterization, setting, language, costumes and spectacle (side attractions; the visual effect of drama). Under folklore are folksongs/tales. 

A Folklorist: Is he/she who studies folklore


Class Work

Write a short note on:

  1. Oral tradition
  2. Folklore



  1. Who is a Folklorist?
  2. How did Folklore uses the elements of drama? Discuss