Most definitions of literature have been criterial definitions, definitions based on a list of criteria which all literary works must meet. However, more current theories of meaning take the view that definitions are based on prototypes: there is broad agreement about good examples that meet all of the prototypical characteristics, and other examples are related to the prototypes by family resemblance. For literary works, prototypical characteristics include careful use of language, being written in a literary genre (poetry, prose fiction, or drama), being read aesthetically, and containing many weak implicatures.
"What is Literature? A Definition Based on Prototypes,"
Work Papers of the Summer Institute of Linguistics, University of North Dakota Session: Vol. 41
, Article 3.
Available at: https://commons.und.edu/sil-work-papers/vol41/iss1/3