English Literature & Composition: Glossary of Literary Forms #cwp11x


A literary form, sometimes called a genre, is a category of literature. The forms can be defined by their technique, tone, content, or length. The distinctions between genres and forms are flexible.


Writing that deals with life in a humorous way, often making fun of people’s mistakes

Example: Kingsley Amis’s Lucky Jim


A short story that often uses talking animals as the main characters and teaches an explicit moral or lesson

ExampleAesop’s Fables


A story set in an imaginary world in which the characters usually have supernatural powers or abilities

ExampleHarry Potter books, by J.K. Rowling


A story originally passed from one generation to another by word of mouth. Folktales typically have a moral or lesson.

Historical Fiction

A fictional story based on a real-time and place in history, mixing fact with fiction

Example: The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco

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English Literature & Composition: Glossary of Literary Devices #cwp11x

As an extension of the AP Literature and Composition by The University of California, Berkeley. It’s an experiment where one must understand literary terminology and how to use it when analyzing texts of various types and lengths. I

The best way to remember what these terms mean is to apply them to our reading. For example, as we read fiction, make sure to identify the setting, the protagonist, and any examples of symbols, irony, etc. When one identify them, it helps to write out a short explanation for oneself.

Here is a brief list of some key literary terms, divided into three categories–devices, forms, and elements–as well as some relevant examples. You should do additional research into other terms that might be useful.

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