How To Read Literature Like A Professor Summary

Introduction

In the book “How To Read Literature Like A Professor,” author Thomas C. Foster aims to help readers understand the literature on a deeper level by analyzing common literary themes and techniques.

Through a series of chapters, Foster breaks down how to interpret symbols, themes, and literary devices to gain a better understanding of a text.

In this blog, we will summarize and explore the main points of each chapter, highlighting how they can be applied to literature and real life. Our goal is to give readers a better understanding of Foster’s insights and how they can enhance their literary analysis skills.

Chapter 1: Every Trip is a Quest (Except When it’s Not)

In Chapter 1 of “How To Read Literature Like A Professor,” Foster discusses the concept of the “quest” and how it is often represented in literature.

According to Foster, a quest is a journey undertaken in search of something of great value, whether physical or metaphorical.

Foster argues that many stories, whether myths, folktales, or modern novels, revolve around a quest, with the protagonist setting out on a journey to find something that will better their life in some way.

Foster gives examples of quests from literature, such as the search for the Holy Grail in the Arthurian legends and the search for the American Dream in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby.”

He also discusses how a quest can be applied to real life, with individuals often setting out on their quests to find meaning or fulfilment in their lives.

Overall, Foster argues that understanding the concept of a quest is key to interpreting and appreciating literature, as it helps readers to understand the motivations and desires of the characters and the larger themes at play in the story.

Chapter 2: Nice to Eat with You: Acts of Communion

In Chapter 2 of “How To Read Literature Like A Professor,” Foster discusses the concept of “communion,” or the sharing of a meal, and how it is often used as a literary device in literature.

Foster argues that sharing a meal has a deep symbolic meaning and is often used in literature to represent relationships, community, and even political or social commentary.

Foster gives examples of the use of communions in literature, such as the Last Supper in the Bible and the Mad Hatter’s tea party in Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”

He also discusses how communion can be applied to real life, with sharing a meal often being a way for people to come together and bond.

Overall, Foster argues that understanding the symbolism of communion is important in interpreting literature, as it can help readers understand the relationships and themes in a story.

Chapter 3: Nice to Eat You: Acts of Vampires

In Chapter 3 of “How To Read Literature Like A Professor,” Foster discusses the use of vampires as a literary device in literature.

Foster argues that vampires and other creatures of folklore, such as werewolves and dragons, have been used throughout history to explore themes of good versus evil, temptation, and the consequences of giving into one’s primal desires.

Foster gives examples of vampires in literature, such as the character of Dracula in Bram Stoker’s novel of the same name and the vampires in Anne Rice’s “The Vampire Chronicles.”

He also discusses how the concept of vampires can be applied to real life, with the idea of the “vampire” often being used as a metaphor for those who drain the energy or resources of others.

Overall, Foster argues that understanding the symbolism of vampires and other folklore creatures is important in interpreting literature.

It can help readers understand the themes and messages explored in a story.

Chapter 4: If It’s Square, It’s a Sonnet

In Chapter 4 of “How To Read Literature Like A Professor,” Foster discusses the use of sonnets, a specific type of poetry consisting of 14 lines and a strict rhyme scheme, as a literary device in literature.

Foster argues that sonnets have been used throughout history to explore love, loss, and the passage of time.

Foster gives examples of sonnets in literature, such as William Shakespeare’s “Sonnets” and Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “Sonnets from the Portuguese.”

He also discusses how the sonnet’s structure, with its strict rhyme scheme and syllable count, helps convey the themes and emotions explored in the poem.

Overall, Foster argues that understanding the structure and symbolism of sonnets is important in interpreting literature, as it can help readers to better appreciate the craft and artistry of the poem.

Chapter 5: Hanseldee and Greteldum

In Chapter 5 of “How To Read Literature Like A Professor,” Foster discusses the use of fairy tales and folklore as literary devices in literature.

Foster argues that these stories, which often involve magical elements and feature archetypal characters such as princesses and dragons, have been used throughout history to explore universal themes and offer moral lessons.

Foster gives examples of fairy tales and folklore in literature, such as the stories of the Brothers Grimm and the myths of ancient Greece.

He also discusses how these stories have been reinterpreted and adapted in modern literature, such as in the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and J.K. Rowling.

Overall, Foster argues that understanding the symbolism and themes of fairy tales and folklore is important in interpreting literature.

It can help readers better understand the universal messages and lessons conveyed in the story.

Chapter 6: It’s Greek to Me

In Chapter 6 of “How To Read Literature Like A Professor,” Foster discusses Greek mythology as a literary device in literature. Foster argues that Greek myths, which often feature gods, goddesses, and other supernatural beings, have had a lasting influence on literature and continue to be used to explore themes of love, loss, and the human experience.

Foster gives examples of Greek mythology in literature, such as the works of Homer and the plays of Sophocles. He also discusses how Greek myths have been adapted and reinterpreted in modern literature, such as in the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan.

Overall, Foster argues that understanding the symbolism and themes of Greek mythology is important in interpreting literature, as it can help readers better understand the universal messages and lessons being conveyed in the story.

Chapter 7: It’s More Than Just Rain or Snow

In Chapter 7 of “How To Read Literature Like A Professor,” Foster discusses weather as a literary device in literature. Foster argues that weather, often used to set the mood or atmosphere of a story, can also symbolise the characters’ emotions and inner states.

Foster gives examples of weather in literature, such as the stormy atmosphere in William Shakespeare’s “King Lear” and the snow-covered landscape in Emily Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights.” He also discusses how weather can foreshadow events or symbolize the passage of time.

Overall, Foster argues that understanding the symbolism of weather is important in interpreting literature, as it can help readers to better understand the mood and themes of a story.

Chapter 8: When in Doubt, It’s from Shakespeare

In Chapter 8 of “How To Read Literature Like A Professor,” Foster discusses the influence of William Shakespeare on literature and culture. Foster argues that Shakespeare often considered one of the greatest playwrights in the English language, has had a lasting impact on literature, and his works continue to be widely studied and performed.

Foster gives examples of Shakespeare’s plays and how they have been adapted and reinterpreted in modern literature and media. He also discusses how Shakespeare’s use of language and themes continue to be influential and relevant today.

Overall, Foster argues that understanding the works of Shakespeare and his impact on literature is important to fully appreciate the cultural and literary landscape.

Chapter 9: It’s All Political

In Chapter 9 of “How To Read Literature Like A Professor,” Foster discusses the relationship between literature and politics. Foster argues that literature, whether overtly political or not, often reflects the social and political climate of the time it was written and can be used to explore and comment on political issues.

Foster gives examples of literature that deal with political themes, such as George Orwell’s “1984” and Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World.” He also discusses how literature can be used to resist or challenge political ideologies and systems.

Overall, Foster argues that understanding literature’s political context and themes are important to appreciate the cultural and historical significance of work fully.

Chapter 7: It’s More Than Just Rain or Snow

In Chapter 7 of “How To Read Literature Like A Professor,” Foster discusses weather as a literary device in literature. Foster argues that weather, often used to set the mood or atmosphere of a story, can also symbolise the characters’ emotions and inner states.

Foster gives examples of weather in literature, such as the stormy atmosphere in William Shakespeare’s “King Lear” and the snow-covered landscape in Emily Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights.” He also discusses how weather can foreshadow events or symbolize the passage of time.

Overall, Foster argues that understanding the symbolism of weather is important in interpreting literature, as it can help readers to better understand the mood and themes of a story.

Chapter 8: When in Doubt, It’s from Shakespeare

In Chapter 8 of “How To Read Literature Like A Professor,” Foster discusses the influence of William Shakespeare on literature and culture. Foster argues that Shakespeare often considered one of the greatest playwrights in the English language, has had a lasting impact on literature, and his works continue to be widely studied and performed.

Foster gives examples of Shakespeare’s plays and how they have been adapted and reinterpreted in modern literature and media. He also discusses how Shakespeare’s use of language and themes continue to be influential and relevant today.

Overall, Foster argues that understanding the works of Shakespeare and his impact on literature is important to fully appreciate the cultural and literary landscape.

Conclusion

In “How To Read Literature Like A Professor,” Thomas C. Foster provides readers with a framework for understanding and interpreting the literature on a deeper level. By analyzing common literary themes and devices, such as quests, communion, and folklore, Foster helps readers better understand the motivations and desires of characters and the larger themes at play in a story.

In this blog, we have summarized and explored the main points of each chapter of Foster’s book, highlighting how they can be applied to both literature and real life. We hope this has given readers a better understanding of Foster’s insights and how they can enhance their literary analysis skills. Whether you are a literature student or simply a reader who wants to gain a deeper appreciation for the works you encounter, “How To Read Literature Like A Professor” is a valuable resource that offers valuable insights and perspectives on how to interpret and understand literature.

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