Didactical essay literature with didactics, Didacticism: Definition and Examples in Literature

Didactical essay literature with didactics, Didacticism: Definition and Examples in Literature

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Didacticism

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Didacticism is a philosophy that emphasizes instructional and informative qualities in literature, art, and design. [1] [2] [3] In art, design, architecture, and landscape, didacticism is an emerging conceptual approach that is driven by the urgent need to explain. [3]

When applied to ecological questions, didacticism in art, design, architecture and landscape attempts to persuade the viewer of environmental priorities; thus, constituting an entirely new form of explanatory discourse that presents, what can be called “eco-lessons”. [4] This concept can be defined as “ecological didacticism”. [5]

Contents

Overview [ edit ]

The term has its origin in the Ancient Greek word διδακτικός (didaktikos), “pertaining to instruction”, [6] and signified learning in a fascinating and intriguing manner. [7] [8]

Didactic art was meant both to entertain and to instruct. Didactic plays, for instance, were intended to convey a moral theme or other rich truth to the audience. [9] [10] During the Middle Age, the Roman Catholic chants like the Veni Creator Spiritus, as well as the Eucharistic hymns like the Adoro te devote and Pange lingua are used for fixing within prayers the truths of the Roman Catholic faith to preserve them and pass down from a generation to another. In the Renaissance, the church begun a syncretism between pagan and the Christian didactic art, a syncretism that reflected its dominating temporal power and recalled the controversy among the pagan and Christian aristocracy in the fourth century. [11] An example of didactic writing is Alexander Pope’s An Essay on Criticism (1711), which offers a range of advice about critics and criticism. An example of didactism in music is the chant Ut queant laxis, which was used by Guido of Arezzo to teach solfege syllables.

Around the 19th century the term didactic came to also be used as a criticism for work that appears to be overburdened with instructive, factual, or otherwise educational information, to the detriment of the enjoyment of the reader (a meaning that was quite foreign to Greek thought). Edgar Allan Poe called didacticism the worst of “heresies” in his essay The Poetic Principle.

Examples [ edit ]

Some instances of didactic literature include: [ citation needed ]

  • Instructions of Kagemni, by Kagemni I(?) (2613–2589 BC?) , by Hardjedef (between 25th century BC and 24th century BC)
  • The Maxims of Ptahhotep, by Ptahhotep (around 2375-2350 BC)
  • Works and Days, by Hesiod (c. 700 BC)
  • On Horsemanship, by Xenophon (c. 350 BC)
  • The Panchatantra, by Vishnu Sarma (c. 300 BC)
  • De rerum natura, by Lucretius (c. 50 BC)
  • Georgics, by Virgil (c. 30 BC)
  • Ars Poetica by Horace (c. 18 BC)
  • Ars Amatoria, by Ovid (1 BC)
  • Thirukkural, by Thiruvalluvar (between 2nd century BC and 5th century AD)
  • Remedia Amoris, by Ovid (AD 1)
  • Medicamina Faciei Femineae, by Ovid (between 1 BC and AD 8)
  • Astronomica by Marcus Manilius (c. AD 14)
  • Epistulae morales ad Lucilium, by Seneca the Younger, (c. 65 AD) , by Nemesianus (3rd century AD)
  • The Jataka Tales (Buddhist literature, 5th century AD)
  • Philosophus Autodidactus by Ibn Tufail (12th century)
  • Theologus Autodidactus by Ibn al-Nafis (1270s)
  • The Morall Fabillis of Esope the Phrygian (1480s)
  • The Puruṣaparīkṣā by Vidyapati
  • The Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan (1678)
  • Rasselas, by Samuel Johnson (1759)
  • The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes (anonymous, 1765)
  • The Adventures of Nicholas Experience, by Ignacy Krasicki (1776)
  • The Water-Babies, by Charles Kingsley (1863)
  • If-, by Rudyard Kipling (1910)
  • Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse (1952)
  • Sophie’s World, by Jostein Gaarder (1991)
  • The Wizard of Gramarye series by Christopher Stasheff (1968-2004)
  • Children’s Books in England: Five Centuries of Social Life. by F. J. Harvey Darton[12]

Some examples of research that investigates didacticism in art, design, architecture and landscape:

  • “Du Didactisme en Architecture / On Didacticism in Architecture”. (2019). In C. Cucuzzella, C. I. Hammond, S. Goubran, & C. Lalonde (Eds.), Cahiers de Recherche du LEAP (Vol. 3). Potential Architecture Books. [3]
  • Cucuzzella, C., Chupin, J.-P., & Hammond, C. (2020). “Eco-didacticism in art and architecture: Design as means for raising awareness”. Cities, 102, 102728. [5]

Some examples of art, design, architecture and landscape projects that present eco-lessons. [4]

Didacticism: Definition and Examples in Literature

Dr. Richard Nordquist is professor emeritus of rhetoric and English at Georgia Southern University and the author of several university-level grammar and composition textbooks.

Didacticism is all about teaching and educating and the word didactic comes from a Greek term meaning the same. The term didacticism, when referring to writing, describes literature serving as a means to teach the reader something, whether that be morals or how to make stew. Some connotations of the word didactic can include an inference of being heavy-handed and preachy, but that manner is not a requirement for something to be didactic. That said, it certainly can preach as well as instruct or advise.

Key Takeaways Didacticism

  • Didactic text is instructional, not always preachy.
  • Before how-to videos and self-help books came fables, myths, and proverbs.
  • Literature that has an ethical message among its themes can be didactic, just as straightforward second-person instructional text can.

You’ll often be able to tell didactic writing by sight, as it is nonfiction that makes use of the second-person point of view, using you or your and imperative sentences, as opposed to first-person point of view (I, we, our) and third person (he, she). However, it doesn’t have to use second person, so third person usage doesn’t automatically rule out the use of didactic text.

Didactic Writing Types

Didacticism has been around since before language was being written down or printed; as long as there’s been something to instruct, there have been stories to deliver the lessons. Before the Aesopic fables, there were parables, myths, legends, and proverbs passed down from generation to generation to inspire and advise people how to live and instruct in practices to follow.

“One of the age-old functions of all folklore is education, and performers who would amuse us are just as often eager to teach us as well,” said author Sandra K. Dolby. Whether it’s “literature” depends on how narrowly you define that term, though. “On the other hand, there are those who would argue that ‘literature’true artis never utilitarian, never purposeful, that writing intended to advise or persuade is communication or rhetoric but not literature.” (“Self-Help Books: Why Americans Keep Reading Them.” University of Illinois Press, 2005)

Others would disagree, noting that the world (and art) is rarely so black and white. They would cite works of literature as illustrative of didacticism when there’s something to learn from them—such as William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies” and Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.” These works make ethical arguments in their themes. In the former, the author portrays civilization and ethics/moral codes vs. barbarism. In the latter, Atticus Finch teaches his children about prejudice, courage, and doing the right thing, even when it’s not a popular position.

Whether someone defines a particular work as literature or not, though, if it’s instructional, it’s definitely didactic writing.

Didacticism Examples

From “Advice to Youth” by Mark Twain: “Always obey your parents, when they are present. This is the best policy in the long run because if you don’t, they will make you. Now as to the matter of lying. You want to be very careful about lying; otherwise, you are nearly sure to get caught.” Even if the speech he gave is satire, there’s still truth in what he says. Humor as a convention can also make advice easier to take.

Compare Twain’s voice with the more matter-of-fact tone used in “Camping Out” by Ernest Hemingway: “The simplest [bug repellant] perhaps is oil of citronella. Two bits’ worth of this purchased at any pharmacist’s will be enough to last for two weeks in the worst fly and mosquito-ridden country.

Rub a little on the back of your neck, your forehead, and your wrists before you start fishing, and the blacks and skeeters will shun you. The odor of citronella is not offensive to people. It smells like gun oil. But the bugs do hate it.”

In Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, in addition to imploring leaders to pass civil rights-related laws, he also instructed Blacks protesting to make their voices heard in a peaceful way. Note the use of second person here as he speaks to the audience (using the imperative form in the first sentence with “you” understood before the word “let”): “Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence.”

Other examples of didacticism in literature include Medieval morality plays. Writers of didactic essays from the Victorian era include Thomas De Quincey (1785–1859), Thomas Carlyle (1795–1881), Thomas Macaulay (1800–1859), and John Ruskin (1819–1900).

Didactic Writing (Definition, Purpose, How To Write + Examples)

When a text gives a moral, an instruction, buy an essay online a rule, or a principle to follow, it implements the philosophy of didacticism.

Didacticism can be defined (academically) as a philosophy that teaches moral lessons and entertain its readers. However, the aesthetic function of didactic literature is secondary to its disciplinary purpose.

Didactic literature aims to dictate the moral life and moral behavior of the reader, or the main character in the plot, or design the world of the textbook in a way that the content provides didactic examples to anyone in association with the piece.

Didacticism is one of the most popular literary devices. It has been used widely by writers, poets, philosophers, directors to instruct and teach right and wrong, to-dos and not to-dos.

History of Didacticism (Origins)

Etymology

The word ‘didactic’ has been derived from the Greek didaktikós meaning “apt at teaching” (Merriam-Webster).

The Greek word didaktós means “taught, or learned.” The word didacticus from New Latin also means the same.

Origin

The practice of didacticism began before the written word. Didacticism is a concept encompassed in things one says or hears all day. Oral epics, folk songs, cave art all can be didactic in nature. Any medium of art (in the broader sense) that teach, imparts morality, instructs is a didactic work.

Let us now have a glimpse of didacticism throughout literary history.

Famous Ancient Texts

Many ancient texts can fall wholly under the category of didactic tales.

Aesop’s Fables

Aesop, believed to live in ancient Greece, is credited with having written numerous fables that carry essential lessons on how to live morally and buy an essay ethically. Aesop has over 120 stories attributed to his name that can be read by children and adults alike.

Works and Days by Hesiod

An important didactic poem with over 800 lines, written by the ancient poet Hesiod in Greece, around 700 BC. It is a didactic source for essay online buy farmers (like modern how-to books) on the art of agriculture.

Panchatantra

An ancient Indian collection of didactic animal fables in Sanskrit prose and verse dated earlier than 200 BCE.

The Bible

A collection of didactic religious texts sacred in Judaism, Christianity, and other faiths. Considered to be “divinely inspired,” The Bible contains hymns, didactic letters, essays, prophecies, and accounts of divine knowledge.

Many associate the seven deadly sins as part of the Bible stories, but such is not the case.

Famous Didactic Literature in the Middle Ages/Medieval Europe

Ars Poetica by Horace

Ars Poetica or The Art of Poetry is a didactic poem where Horace, the ancient Roman poet, teaches writers the art of writing a poem and drama.

It heavily influenced French drama in the following ages.

Jataka Tales by Gautama Buddha

The Jataka Tales are a collection of didactic texts by worldly wiseman Gautama Buddha. The body contains more than 500 didactic tales and is an integral part of the Pali literary canon. It aims for moral education and helps readers create a better society.

The Morality Plays

Morality plays are a genre of drama from medieval Europe that instruct the audience on various virtues and sins, moral lives, healthy living practices, etc. They draw a broad line between good and bad, moral and evil.

Some literary examples of morality plays are:

The Castle of Perseverance

A morality play from medieval England is considered the earliest full-length play in the category. Together with Wisdom and Mankind, it is known as the Macro Manuscript.

The Everyman

Another piece of didactic literature, similar to The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, The Everyman uses allegorical characters to make observations and give examples of attaining Christian salvation.

Types of Didactic Literature

Here are some didactic literature categories.

Children’s Literature and Fables

Didacticism examples are most heavily used in children’s literature to teach and form necessary principles upon their impressionable minds.

Mythological/Religious Text

Texts such as morality plays, the Bible, the Quran, the Bhagavat Gita all aim to instruct believers on living morally and serve God as understood in their ways.

Plays, Poem, Prose

Writers such as Charles Dickens, Antoine de Saint-Exupery Ayn Rand, Salman Rushdie, Philip K. Dick, Paulo Coelho, Thomas Hardy, John Bunyan, Herman Hesse, Aristotle, Plato, Ovid have works that can be shelved under solid didactic literature example.

Essays and Non-fiction

Political and European neoclassical texts are examples of didactic literature.

Examples of Didactic Literature

The Neoclassical Age (18th century) in Europe fits the definition of didacticism perfectly. Neoclassicism was a reaction to the metaphysical nature of literature, and neoclassics like Francis Bacon, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Joseph Butler emphasized instruction, rationalism, and objective in their works.

Pragmatism subordinated idealism; this method was expected to be followed in core parts of life such as religious beliefs, literature, and morality. Too much accentuation on didacticism ultimately gave rise to what we call the Romantic Movement in literature.

The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan

John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress is a Christian allegory, and the main character’s name is Christian. Christian is an everyman character who is burdened by the knowledge of his sins after reading the Bible.

The book accounts for his journey from the City of Destruction to Celestial City. Celestial City here meant heaven, while the City of Destruction is the name for “this world.”

Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder

Fourteen-year-old Sophie becomes obsessed with finding the meaning behind her identity when she receives a mail asking, “Who are you?” and, “Where do you come from?”

An Essay on Man by Alexander Pope

This essay is a didactic piece intended to justify the ways of God to men. This essay was intended to be a part of a “system of ethics” Pope wanted to enunciate in his poetry.

Animal Farm by George Orwell

An allegorical novella by George Orwell instructing readers of the time to break free from autocracy and strive for freedom and equality.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

A dystopian novel by Ray Bradbury, it shares a lesson on the importance of books in a society.

Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

The story of Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, originally written in German, and giving a spiritual example to the readers.

Purpose of Didacticism (Functions)

The purpose of didacticism is to put forth an example of should and should nots upon society. These are achieved through religious doctrines, political ideas, moral story and lesson, the canonization of history and literature, the use of characters that personify virtues, an angry god that punishes the sinner, and so on.

Functions of didacticism are:

  • To instruct and teach lessons;
  • To give the reader common examples of morals to live by;
  • To give a definition of life and its purpose;
  • To serve the audience with ethical codes;
  • To attain religious salvation;

How to Use Didacticism (Methods)

Popular literary devices report that the use of too much didacticism in writing can make the text dull, bureaucratic, and literally dictatorial. Didactic speeches are robust and have been exploited heavily by autocrats and dictators.

Modern use of didacticism can be found in speeches, posters, clothing, didactic campaign slogans, songs, hoardings, school lessons and prayers, and most commonly in instruction manuals.

If you are composing a story with a moral, it is didactic fiction. After reading your story, the reader will find a clear principle or code that you think will improve their lives.

If you are forming a how-to guide, it falls under a didactic document. The most popular example is the For Dummies series.

Anything that instructs, teaches, is didactic – whether a piece of revered literary work like that of John Bunyan’s, the morality plays, or your professors lecturing the class. A parent’s lesson to the child is didactic, and use of didacticism can be found everywhere on a daily basis.

Quiz: Important Lessons to Test Yourself On

Have some fun taking this quiz to test what you’ve learned.

1. What is the purpose of didactic literature?

  1. To entertain
  2. To instruct
  3. Both (a) and (b)

2. Which of the following is not a didactic text?

  1. A Pilgrim’s Progress
  2. Bible stories
  3. The Twilight Saga

3. Which age made the most use of didacticism in English literature?

  1. The Romantic Age
  2. The Victorian Age
  3. The Neoclassical Age

4. Which of the following activities implement didacticism?

  1. Teaching
  2. Football
  3. Netflix

5. “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.”

The above excerpt is an example of?

6. The Greek didaktikós means:

  1. Apt at teaching
  2. Smiling is the best medicine
  3. Knowledge is power

7. The definition of didacticism is:

  1. A Biblical code for followers of Christianity.
  2. A philosophy that intends to teach moral lessons and entertain its readers.
  3. A literary device to make the reader melancholic.

ANSWERS: 1 (C); 2 (C); 3 (C); 4 (A); 5 (A); 6 (A); 7 (B);

Further Resources

  • A contemporary Goodreads compilation of didactic literature.
  • A World Cat collection of didactic literature, movies and places.

An archive of religious didactic literature by Washington State University.

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