How To Read Literature Like A Professor By Thomas Foster Analysis

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Thomas C. Foster’s How to Read Literature Like a Professor provides a lively introduction to the subject matter of literature and insight into the mind of an English professor. Being an English professor at the University of Michigan-Flint, Foster has gained valuable experience in reading literature; experience that he shares with the reader in his book. Put simply, this book is a general guideline for what to look for when reading literature. An essential characteristic of Foster’s writing is the use of specific novels as evidence for his argument. In each chapter, Foster makes a different claim. To inform the reader about the type of writing that he is referring to, Foster often includes briefs summaries of poetry or other more general forms …show more content…
Dedicating one of his chapters to the season, Foster speaks of the symbolic meaning of the time of the year as well as the significance of that time of year in literature. In speaking of the general ideas of the symbolism of the season, Foster states that “the seasons have stood for the same set of meanings” for about as long as anyone could remember (186). Foster’s analysis of the seasons gives the reader further insight into the setting of a story. Because the description of a setting can be so vivid, it is easy to get lost in the search for symbolism throughout a description of that setting. In pointing out the significance of a season as well as several deeper meanings behind those seasons, Foster makes it a little bit easier to grasp what is important in the description of a setting. This advice was very important to me as a reader due to my tendency to skim through the setting as though it is irrelevant to the story that is taking place. Because of Foster’s explanation of the significance of the season, I can further understand how the setting may have a further impact on the action that takes place in a story. In the future, this concept is one that I will monitor closely as it will give me further insight as to the type of story that the author is writing. Furthermore, analysis of the seasons can allow me to make clear why certain events in a story are happening in the …show more content…
Foster claims that there is no real deeper meaning to the physical appearances of the characters themselves as it relates to the journey that they are expected to undertake, stating that “a short leg is just a short leg, and scoliosis is just scoliosis,” (202). He follows this statement by claiming that these physical imperfections may be a sign of moral imperfections; however, they have no real impact on what the character will do or the actions that a character is expected to partake in. Because of Foster’s discussion of the deeper meaning of writings, it seemed easy for me to get lost in the symbolism, expecting each and every description to stand for something. In this section, Foster clarifies that there is not always a deeper meaning to everything that an author writes. Like he says, scoliosis could just be scoliosis. Furthermore, his discussion of the physical markings on a character allowed me to see that this thinking could be applied to other novels as well. A specific book that this made me think of was J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter. In this book, the main character, Harry, has a mark on his forehead that resembles lightning. In his discussion of the book, Foster claims that the mark is just a way to differentiate the character rather than something that holds a symbolic meaning. This statement slightly altered my

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