This is a collaboratively edited list; please feel free to add to it.
Meyer's 1997 paper is based around the idea that words are defined on the basis of a "prototype", or an ideal example that perfectly fits the definition of the word, and that other examples fit the definition to a lesser degree, or not at all. Experimental evidence has shown that people's definitions of words tend to be based on a list of criteria: a perfect fit for the definition will meet all of the criteria, while some words will still meet the definition because they meet some of the criteria, but not all of the criteria.
Meyer proposes that literature is defined by the following list of criteria:
- are written texts
- are marked by careful use of language, including features such as creative
metaphors, well-turned phrases, elegant syntax, rhyme, alliteration, meter
- are in a literary genre (poetry, prose fiction, or drama)
- are read aesthetically
- are intended by the author to be read aesthetically
- contain many weak implicatures (are deliberately somewhat open in
A perfect example of literature will meet all of these criteria; other examples still count as literature, but are less perfect because they only meet some criteria. For example, oral literature meets all of these criteria other than not being a written text; it still is literature, but it is not as good of an example of literature compared to a work that was written down.