Didacticism [dahy-dak-tuh-siz-uhm] is an artistic philosophy that emphasizes instructional and informative qualities in literature and other types of art. The primary intention of didactic art is not to entertain, but to teach. Didactic plays, for instance, teach the audience through the use of a moral or a theme. 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.

The term ‘didactic’ is also used as a criticism for work that appears to be overly burdened with instructive, factual, or otherwise educational information, to the detriment of the enjoyment of the reader. Edgar Allan Poe called didacticism the worst of ‘heresies’ in his essay ‘The Poetic Principle.’

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