From Hull AWE
This is one of the 117 mis-spellings listed as 'Common difficulties' in the section on 'Spelling' within 'Writing' in UEfAP.
Literature is a word that has two distinct meanings of relevance to current students.
- The older sense is "creative writing of recognized artistic value", to use an on-line definition (http://www.cogsci.princeton.edu/cgi-bin/webwn). It is literature in this sense that is studied in Departments of English Literature, and examined at GCSE and A level in the subject of English Literature.
- In other academic departments literature means "everything that has been written in the field", "the [recognised] writing on a given subject". It is this sense that is used in Literature Review. Here it implies two things: first, that the writing we are talking about is in some sense 'respectable', worth reading for academic study; and second, that it is probably therefore quite technical and specialised. It does not necessarily imply any "artistic value".
- Note that the adjective literary is only properly applied to literature in the first of these meanings. A 'Literary Review' is normally a magazine to do with creative writing. A student in - for example - Business Studies is expected to write a Literature Review: a 'Literary Review' is NOT expected.