In the age of quick reads, sound bites, and visual stories, delving into a deep literary work can feel like a lost art. “How to Read Literature Like a Professor” by Thomas C. Foster serves as a timely guide for demystifying this art. This book, besides being a literary primer, is also a call to dig deeper into the stories that we think we know, to uncover layers that we didn’t realize existed.
The book is structured in a way that combines the accessibility of a classroom lecture with the depth of an academic thesis. Foster provides an extensive look into literary devices, themes, and motifs that commonly appear in literature. From the symbolism of a simple road to the intricacies of character development, How to Read Literature Like a Professor deciphers the ‘codes’ that make the world of literature richer and more engaging. Remember those English class discussions about what the green light symbolizes in “The Great Gatsby”? Foster takes that type of analysis to a whole new level.
Reading How to Read Literature Like a Professor will equip you with the analytical tools to make your own judgments. Instead of leaning on accepted interpretations you will learn how to form your own critical opinions and engage in deep intelectual analysis.
And speaking of teaching, I can’t help but think how useful this book would be as a supplementary text in an English or literature class. I’ve seen so many students struggle with identifying themes or understanding the significance of a narrative device; this book could serve as a lifeline. It would have certainly made my life easier during my years in the classroom, where juggling between basic comprehension and deeper literary analysis was always a challenge.
This revised edition brings new layers of insights, updated teaching points, and even new chapters to adapt to the changing landscape of literary studies. The book has evolved much like how education itself has evolved, integrating modern perspectives without losing its core objective—making the act of reading a more rewarding experience.
While the book is aimed at a general audience, I have to say, educators and people who are passionate about literature will find it a treasure trove of knowledge and insights. So, if you’ve been trying to elevate your reading experience, this is your handbook.
So, is “How to Read Literature Like a Professor” worth your time? Absolutely. It doesn’t just teach you how to read; it teaches you how to savor the world of words. After all, literature is not just about stories, it’s about life itself.How to Read Literature Like a Professor
How to Read Literature Like a Professor Discussion Questions
Here are some discussion questions that could get a good conversation going, whether in a classroom, a book club, or even just for your own reflective thinking:
- Do you agree with Foster that anyone can learn to read literature like a professor? Why or why not?
- How has reading this book changed your perspective on literature? Do you find yourself noticing more themes or symbols in what you read now?
- Foster argues that literature is interconnected, borrowing from history, mythology, and even other literature. How does this idea change your perception of originality in modern storytelling?
- Foster delves into the idea that geography in literature often isn’t just “setting.” Discuss an example from a book you’ve recently read where geography played a symbolic or thematic role.
- Discuss the concept of the ‘quest’ as outlined by Foster. Can you think of modern-day stories or even movies where the protagonist’s journey fits this description?
- One of Foster’s points is about the universality of certain literary elements across cultures. How important is cultural context in interpreting a work of literature?
- Foster incorporates a lot of humor into a subject that many consider to be serious or academic. How does his tone affect your engagement with the material?
- The revised edition includes updated teaching points and new chapters. If you’ve read the earlier edition, what do you think these updates add to the book?
- How can educators incorporate the principles from this book into their teaching methods to make literature more accessible and engaging for students?
- Foster discusses the idea that “characters are never just themselves; they stand for something else.” Discuss a character from a recent book you’ve read that serves as a symbol or archetype.
- If you could add one chapter to the book, what would it cover and why?
- Considering Foster’s analytical approach to reading, do you think it’s possible to over-analyze a text? Where should one draw the line?
In wrapping things up, I’ve got to say that “How to Read Literature Like a Professor” provides a toolkit for anyone who engages with literature—be it a casual reader, a literature student, or even an educator like myself. Thomas C. Foster manages to demystify the complex layers that make up literary works, encouraging us all to dig deeper and discover the hidden gems that lie beneath the surface of the words on a page, in other words encouraging us to develop lateral reading skills.
I hope you find this How to Read Literature Like a Professor summary helpful!