How to Read Literature Like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines
How to Read Literature Like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines
How to Read Literature Like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines
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Price: $6.34 FREE for Members
Type: eBook
Released:
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
Page Count: 171
Format: pdf
Language: English
ISBN-10: 006000942X
ISBN-13: 9780060009427
User Rating: 4.7500 out of 5 Stars! (4 Votes)

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What does it mean when a fictional hero takes a journey?. Shares a meal? Gets drenched in a sudden rain shower? Often, there is much more going on in a novel or poem than is readily visible on the surface -- a symbol, maybe, that remains elusive, or an unexpected twist on a character -- and there's that sneaking suspicion that the deeper meaning of a literary text keeps escaping you.

In this practical and amusing guide to literature, Thomas C. Foster shows how easy and gratifying it is to unlock those hidden truths, and to discover a world where a road leads to a quest; a shared meal may signify a communion; and rain, whether cleansing or destructive, is never just rain. Ranging from major themes to literary models, narrative devices, and form, How to Read Literature Like a Professor is the perfect companion for making your reading experience more enriching, satisfying, and fun.

About the Author

Tom Foster is Professor of English at the University of Michigan, Flint, where he teaches classes in contemporary fiction, drama and poetry as well as creative writing and composition. He has written several books on twentieth-century British and Irish literature and poetry and lives in East Lansing, Michigan.


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| 5 out of 5 Stars!


How to Read Literature Like a Professor is a wonderful insight into analyzing literature. Written with a light, conversational tone, Dr. Foster breaks down the strategy of analyzing literature into clear and categorized chapters. This book is accessible to many audiences; whether you are a student or teacher of literature, high school or college, or an everyday reader looking to sharpen skills and become more in tune with deconstruction.

The sensible and clear narration is what makes this book an asset for all readers who look to obtain “more” from their reading. Dividing the chapters into titles such as “When in doubt, it’s from Shakespeare…”, “…or the Bible,” and “Yes, she’s a Christ figure, too”, Dr. Foster offers a compelling mini-course in literature deconstruction. Offering numerous examples of common and canonized literature, all readers will be able to understand what is being stated through examples and models.

| 5 out of 5 Stars!


I purchased this book because it was a required text for me. I am a former high school English teacher, and I was involved in a program where I was able to teach a course for college credit as an adjunct to advanced students in my high school. They never had to leave the school grounds, and could still knock out a Freshman-level literature class. This book made the teaching of the class possible for me. While it was full of information I already knew, it helped me move from a vague, gut-level understanding of the issues to a more specific articulation of the material.

I also encouraged a few former students to read this book. One of them is now in college training to be a high school language arts instructor, and another is preparing to enter graduate studies in Russian literature. While most language arts instructors probably will find the material to be a review of previously-learned information, it is well-written and interesting. It helped me advance my thining to a new level, and helped me become the thinker that I am today.

| 5 out of 5 Stars!


friendly introduction to a deeper understanding of books

)

The author is an English professor at the University of Michigan and it becomes apparent quite quickly that he is one of those popular professors who is chatty and has lots of students signing up for his introductory courses on literature. The language is friendly and the examples are entertaining as well as informative. If I lived in Flint, I'd take his classes.There have been many times I've read a book and just *known* the author is trying to impart more than I am taking away from the prose, and I hear about symbolism in literature, yet I have very little success finding it on my own. One time in high school I had a very good English teacher who would point out the symbolism in stories and novels, but he never told us how to do it, as this book does. With chapters on a wide range of topics (journeys, meals, poetry, Shakespeare, the Bible, mythology, fairy tales, weather, geography, violence, politics, sex and illness, among others) and a wide variety of examples, I found myself learning A LOT. Certainly this would not be of much value to a literature graduate student or professor, but for the rest of us this is a great introduction to getting more out of our reading (or viewing, as the author also touches on film, though to a lesser extent).The book concludes with a test, in which you read a short story and interpret it using the principles put forth - delightful and illuminating! Finally, the author gives a suggested reading/viewing list and an index.Two problems with the book: first, as I mentioned, the style of the author is conversational, but sometimes to the point of being distracting; secondly, the topics covered are quite idiosyncratic, leaving out as many as are included, though the author addresses this. Still, I give the book 5 out of 5 because it was entertaining, accessible and it has improved my understanding and appreciation of subsequent books I've read and even films I've seen.

| 4 out of 5 Stars!


A Practical and Amusing Guide to Literature

One thing's for certain: after finishing HOW TO READ LITERATURE LIKE A PROFESSOR, you will either praise the author for opening your eyes to the pleasures of literary analysis, or curse him for making you think too much. That's because Thomas C. Foster, a professor of English at the University of Michigan at Flint, gives his readers a lot to consider.The short answer one comes away with is that nothing is as it appears to be. Symbolism is key. Weather, for example, is not just weather. Rain can be cleansing, cold is harsh but clean, wet is earthy and animal.In case the reader doesn't quite get what Foster is saying, he succinctly states his meaning in a single, boldface sentence. "Myth is a body of the story that matters" reads one. "The real reason for a quest is always self-knowledge" is another.My favorite is, "There's no such thing as a wholly original work of literature," a theme that is repeated on several occasions. According to Foster, everything any author has ever read influences what he writes. Using the western film as an example, he suggests, "What's it about? A big showdown? High Noon. A gunslinger who retires? Shane. A lonely outpost during an uprising? Fort Apache, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon - the woods are full of them . . ." Not that he blames writers for lack of originality: "You can't avoid [repetition], since even avoidance is a form of interaction. It's simply impossible to write . . . in a vacuum."As previously mentioned, some chapters get slightly repetitive. "It's More Than Just Rain or Snow" has many features similar to "...And So Does Season," while "One Story" mirrors many aspects of "Now, Where Have I Seen Her Before." That's okay, though; some things bear repeating.There's also a great deal of religious symbolism in literature. "Whenever people eat or drink together, it's Communion," Foster declares (again ensuring the reader gets the point). There are also plenty of male and female "Christ figures" and chapters like "If She Comes Up, Its Baptism" (i.e., emerging from the water equals rebirth)."Don't Read With Your Eyes," a telling chapter in an age where certain people still seek to ban books, reminds us that present sensibilities might not always apply to the realities in which the story was written. Just look at all the uproar over THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN because some consider it politically incorrect. In Mark Twain's time, however, that was how people lived, spoke and felt.With the first novel I tackled after HOW TO READ LITERATURE LIKE A PROFESSOR, I found myself looking under the rug and in the corners for meanings that may or may not exist. As the saying goes, "Sometimes a cigar is just a smoke." One of the problems college students encounter is the spiel their professors weave. "A moment occurs in this exchange between professor and student when each of us adopts a look," Foster explains. "My look says, 'What, you don't get it?' Theirs says, 'We don't get it. And we think you're making it up.'" But the author maintains that writers do consciously render these symbols when plying their craft. "Memory. Symbol. Pattern. These are the three items that, more than any other, separate the professorial reader from the rest of the crowd," he offers. Just how can us regular-Joe readers recognize all these possibilities? "Same way you get to Carnegie Hall," Foster cracks. "Practice." --- Reviewed by Ron Kaplan

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