A thoroughly revised and updated edition of Thomas C. Foster’s classic guide—a lively and entertaining introduction to literature and literary basics, including symbols, themes and contexts, that shows you how to make your everyday reading experience more rewarding and enjoyable.
While many books can be enjoyed for their basic stories, there are often deeper literary meanings interwoven in these texts. How to Read Literature Like a Professor helps us to discover those hidden truths by looking at literature with the eyes—and the literary codes-of the ultimate professional reader, the college professor.
What does it mean when a literary hero is traveling along a dusty road? When he hands a drink to his companion? When he’s drenched in a sudden rain shower?
Ranging from major themes to literary models, narrative devices and form, Thomas C. Foster provides us with a broad overview of literature—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 a shower-and shows us how to make our reading experience more enriching, satisfying, and fun.
This revised edition includes new chapters, a new preface and epilogue, and incorporates updated teaching points that Foster has developed over the past decade.
About the Author
Thomas C. Foster, author of How to Read Literature Like a Professor and Reading the Silver Screen, is professor emeritus of English at the University of Michigan, Flint, where he taught classes in contemporary fiction, drama, and poetry, as well as creative writing and freelance writing. He is also the author of several books on 20th-century British and Irish literature and poetry.
Table of Contents
Introduction: How'd He Do That? xxvii
1 Every Trip Is a Quest (Except When It's Not) 1
2 Nice to Eat with You: Acts of Communion 9
3 Nice to Eat You: Acts of Vampires 20
4 Now, Where Have I Seen Her Before? 31
5 When in Doubt, It's from Shakespeare … 44
6 … Or the Bible 58
7 Hanseldee and Greteldum 72
8 It's Greek to Me 82
9 It's More Than Just Rain or Snow 97
10 Never Stand Next to the Hero 107
Interlude: Does He Mean That? 127
11 More Than It's Gonna Hurt You: Concerning Violence 133
12 Is That a Symbol? 148
13 It's All Political 163
14 Yes, She's a Christ Figure, Too 176
15 Flights of Fancy 189
16 It's All About Sex… 203
17 … Except Sex 214
18 If She Comes Up, It's Baptism 227
19 Geography Matters… 242
20 … So Does Season 259
Interlude One Story 273
21 Marked for Greatness 285
22 He's Blind for a Reason, You Know 297
23 It's Never Just Heart Disease … And Rarely Just Illness 305
24 Don't Read with Your Eyes 329
25 It's My Symbol and I'll Cry If I Want To 341
26 Is He Serious? And Other Ironies 358
27 A Test Case 373
Postlude: Who's in Charge Here? 420
Appendix: Reading List 435