9 Key Points on How to Read Literature Like a Professor By Thomas C. Foster

Category: English

Literature is a sweet way to enjoy your free time and refresh your mind. It is also a requirement to pass your English classes. Thomas C. Foster was a professor-no surprise. He offers the best tips on how to read Literature like a professor in his book with the same title. Reading Literature should be fun and objective.

The book offers the best leads to reading that enriches the experience. Readers can read and understand the text while delving into an author’s literal meaning.

Thomas C. Foster is an award-winning author known for many works, including How to Read Literature Like a Professor.

About Thomas C. Foster

Thomas C. Foster is the Alumni Distinguished Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Michigan-Flint, where he has taught for years. He is a faculty member of the Yale Summer Session and a visiting professor at Williams College. Additionally, he is the author of 25 books, including How to Read Literature Like a Professor, What Happens in Hamlet, and Why Poetry Matters. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Lively and Entertaining Guide to Become the Ultimate Professional Reader

How to Read Literature Like a professor is a lively and entertaining guide that offers advice on everything, like how to read between the lines of Shakespearean sonnets and how to spot an author’s hidden agenda.

Foster’s approach is lighthearted but never condescending, and his love for Literature shines through on every page. Whether you’re a literature lover or someone who struggles to get through assigned reading, this book will change the way you look at Literature forever.

How to read Literature like a professor is the best guide to keep you entertained while embracing Literature and literary analysis.

The Professor’s Reading Tips

Here are a few reading tips that Thomas C. Foster shares in his book How To Read Literature like a Professor.

1) Pay attention to details and look for patterns

Books have patterns that repeat and loop to create the story. Once you pick up the patterns, you know what to expect in the next chapter. It also helps you understand the work of art by a particular author.

In his book, How to Read Literature like a Professor, Foster highlights ways to note patterns in a book.

2) Allusions are important- investigate references to other works, people, events, or myths

Authors use allusions to reference things they cannot mention outright. The novel has more than the basic level message. Once you can uncover hidden truths and literary codes, you can gain more when reading.

Thomas has taught classes and understands that many readers miss references to other works and people. Many books have deep literary meanings interwoven into words and humor. A simpleton analysis would take away from the beautiful works of art.

3) Symbols can reveal hidden meanings

Using symbols can also add more meaning to a story. Symbols may reference some ideas, ideals, and many more. Symbols may include mentioning objects too often.

Another way symbols can appear in a text is through images and settings. A particular setting can represent deeper literary meanings. Symbols are powerful literary codes.

4) Irony is often used to add depth or humor to a work

Irony adds to the humor in a story. Famous writers love to use irony as a narrative device in their work. English Literature is rich with irony to express ideas contrary to the norm. Irony depicts ideas contrary to the expectation.

Several works of Literature use irony. For instance, Juliet fakes her death to escape with Romeo who ends up committing suicide not knowing of her plan.

5) Learn to read between the lines- look for what isn’t being said as well as what is

Sometimes an author will leave you to come up with your own conclusions at some points in a story. They may deliberately imply something without a direct reference to it. Creative writing relies heavily on indirect messaging.

Creative writing is more than basic stories. It involves several literary models to deliver an exciting reading experience that offers a chance to discover many hidden cues.

6) Most stories follow a common narrative arc which includes elements such as rising action, climax, and resolution

When reading a book like the adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, you will note the format. The same applies to every other short story you will read.

English Literature and Irish Literature still follow the same format. A deeper look into fairy tales shows how the story begins, and progresses to a climax and comes to a resolution at the end of the falling action.

7) Be aware of different genres and how they differ in their conventions

Different genres of stories have different conventions. Some stories will not have the ending you hope for. An Iliad and a mystery drama will have very different convections. 

Understand the genre and mark the expected convections. A fairy tale will dwell on fantasy and may have a happy ending with the good triumphing over bad. 

8) Understand the author’s historical and cultural context

An author’s historical background has an influence on their work. They are likely to use these elements in their literary work. Literary work from the past decade differs from works that came out in the early 1900s. Literary texts from the past may even have references that are hard to relate to or grasp as there are many changes in culture and daily life.

A Greek myth follows an older times historical context than Harry Potter. Other modern-day reads also have a distinct context that suits the culture and historical settings of the time.

9) Don’t be afraid to ask questions- there are no stupid questions in literature!

Literature can be hard to comprehend alone. Ask as many questions as possible. There could be symbols and other literary tools you miss because of the language. Self-knowledge is not enough to analyze deep works of art. Contemporary fiction requires more attention. Talk to your college professor and pose questions to help you understand literary codes of fiction.

Use your reading list and start only one story to grasp the literary basics. Your college professor is a literary hero you can use to grow your self-knowledge. Group discussions to discuss major themes and eventually, other deeper literary meanings interwoven in a book can go a long way. There are too many literary devices in any work of fiction. Use a guide to decode them.

Closing Thoughts on How to Read Literature Like a Professor

Foster’s book, How to read Literature like a professor, is full of useful tips for anyone looking to improve their literary analysis skills. By paying attention to detail, looking for patterns, and investigating references, readers can see the hidden depths in even the most simplistic works.

It is important to note different genres and how they can influence interpretation. For example, a romance novel has a different narrative arc than a tragedy. Finally, readers should not be afraid to ask questions and seek answers in order to get the most out of their reading experience. Use How to Read Literature like a Professor to increase your analysis skills and become the ultimate processor reader.

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