AP Literature and Composition
19 Aug 2012
Observations for How to Read Literature Like A Professor by Thomas C. Foster Introduction: How’d He Do That?
1. Literature has a set of codes and rules, a set of conventions and patterns. 2. Conventions are used, observed, anticipated, and then fulfilled. 3. The three things that differentiate a professional reader from those less experienced are: memory, symbol and pattern. 4. A “Faustian bargain” is like making a deal with the devil. Chapter One: Every Trip Is a Quest (Except When It’s Not)
1. Every quest has five components: a quester, a place to go, a stated reason to go there, challenges/trials en route, and lastly, the real reason to go there. 2. The real reason for a quest never involves and/or includes the stated reason. 3. The real reason for a quest is always for self-knowledge. Chapter Two: Nice to Eat with You: Acts of Communion
1. Communion is whenever people eat or drink together.
2. Communion doesn’t have to be holy.
3. Life and death are acts of communion.
Chapter Three: Nice to Eat You: Acts of Vampires
1. Vampirism can mean the literal vampire action as well as: selfishness, exploitation and refusal for respect. 2. The typical “vampire story” consists of an older figure that has some seductiveness about them to hide their corrupt intentions and a younger figure who is innocent and most typically virginal in some aspect; in turn, the older figure (the vampire) rips away the younger figure’s youth and virginity. 3. According to Foster, human nature is vampiristic—which is why it is found predominately all throughout literature. Chapter Four: If It’s Square, It’s a Sonnet
1. Most lines in sonnets have ten syllables.
2. Sonnets have two parts; the first being the octave that contains 8 lines and the second being the sestet that contains six lines. 3. The two parts of a sonnet have their own separate rhyme schemes. 4. The form of a poem is the most important element in poetry when it comes to understanding the piece. Chapter Five: Now, Where Have I Seen Her Before?
1. Literature is formed by other literature; therefore, there is no such thing as a truly “original” piece of literature. 2. Intertextuality is the constant interaction between all literature with the rest of literature. 3. Professors/ teachers guide you by telling you when you are close to finding those hidden allusions. Chapter Six: When in Doubt, It’s from Shakespeare…
1. Quoting Shakespeare gives you more authority to what you are saying because his literature has survived for so long. 2. Imagination is the writer’s job but it is also the reader’s responsibility to use it effectively as well. Chapter Seven: … Or the Bible
1. Allusions to the Bible are mostly dealing with the loss of innocence in literature. 2. Titles, situations and quotations are extremely common things that are derived from the Bible in literature. 3. If a phrase feels different in tone and weight from the rest of the passage, then it is probably from the Bible. Chapter Eight: Hanseldee and Greteldum
1. Allusions to classical era mythical works create irony once the reader discovers the twist of the story. 2. Great literature is both familiar and strange.
Chapter Nine: It’s Greek to Me
1. Myths are used to portray what matters to the writer and his/her tribe. 2. Greek/Roman mythology focuses on four main things humankind must prove itself against: a. Nature
c. Other humans
d. Religion/the divine
3. Greek/Roman mythology also explains natural phenomena. Chapter Ten: It’s More Than Just Rain or Snow
1. Rain is a highly recurring concept used as both a plot device and a method to symbolically cleanse a character of their sin, burden, worry, et cetera. 2. Fog is very popular among authors and famous Hollywood movie writers because it is a universal symbol of...
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