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The question of what literature is for-if there is a purpose-is not new. Since the beginning of literary theory as a field of study, the debate has been long and complex and is still ongoing. This article offers a reflection on the concept of purpose in the development of literary theories up to the advent of the cognitive turn in the twenty-first century, when empirical studies of literary reading began to proliferate. The paper argues that discussions on the question of purpose have changeddoi:10.1080/23311983.2019.1692532 fatcat:ifxtw5nrprdk3kh6n4sofaghru