Essay: How to read literature like a professor – notes

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  • How to read literature like a professor - notes
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1. When I read poetry there was always that small thing that I didn’t quite understand, so once I learned what a symbol was I found a deeper meaning to the poems, which made me love poems more.

Chapter 1- Every Trip Is A Quest (Except When It’s Not)

1. The five aspects are: A quester, A place to go, A stated reason to go there, Challenges and trials en route, and a real reason to go there.

Five aspects seen in the Book “ The White Tiger”

1. A quester: Barlam, a poor young Indian boy.

2. A place to go: New Delhi

3. A stated reason to go there: To work for a rich man as a servant

4. Challenges and Trials en route: Inequality and depression

5. A real reason to go there: To become a rich and wealthy man himself.

2. Fosters overall point about journeys or trips in literature is that everything is a Quest

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

1. Communion means eating or drinking together as a group

2. Foster suggest that authors include meal scenes as an act of sharing and peace.

3. A failed meal suggest a bad time is coming.

Chapter 3- Nice to Eat You: Acts of Vampires

1. The essentials of the vampire story and what they represent are “older” figure, young female /innocent, continuance of life force.

2. In the book series “A Series of Unfortunate events” the uncle is the older figure that comes after his nephew and Nieces fortune. Throughout the journey, he leaves his mark and it continues

throughout the whole series, almost like a circle.

Chapter 4- If Its Square, It’s a Sonnet

1. Shakespearean/English Sonnet:Sonnet 130

My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;

Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;

If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;

If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.

I have seen roses damasked, red and white,

But no such roses see I in her cheeks;

And in some perfumes is there more delight

Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.

I love to hear her speak, yet well I know

That music hath a far more pleasing sound;

I grant I never saw a goddess go;

My mistress when she walks treads on the ground.

And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare

As any she belied with false compare.

Petrarchan/Italian Sonnet: The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she

With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

2. In “Sonnet 130” of William Shakespeare’s epic sonnet cycle, the first twelve lines compare the speaker’s mistress unfavorably with nature’s beauties. But the concluding couplet swerves in a surprising direction. The couplet plays a pivotal role, usually arriving in the form of a conclusion, amplification, or even refutation of the previous three stanzas, often creating an epiphanic quality to the end.

In “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus, you can tell it is a Petrarchan sonnet due to the rhyme scheme, abba, abba, cdecde, which is suited for the rhyme-rich Italian language, though there are many fine examples in English. Since the Petrarchan presents an argument, observation, question, or some other answerable charge in the octave, a turn, or volta, occurs between the eighth and ninth lines. This turn marks a shift in the direction of the foregoing argument or narrative, turning the sestet into the vehicle for the counterargument, clarification, or whatever answer the octave demands.

Chapter 5- Now, Where Have I Seen Her Before?

1. Intertextuality is the relationships between texts, especially used in literary readings.

2. Intertextuality was in the invisible man, The Help, and the odyssey and O brother, where art thou.

Chapter 6- When in Doubt, It’s from Shakespeare.

1. The Titanic is a film that has a similar theme to Romeo and Juliet. The two lovers are at ends because of class differences, so Romeo, Juliet, Jack, and Rose all find sneaky, deceiving ways to see each other so that nobody else finds out. The boat begins to sink so they try to survive and Jack dies from hypothermia. In Romeo and Juliet, they both commit suicide. Both deal with themes of class separation, love, forbidden love, death, tragedy, and young love.

Chapter 7- …Or the Bible

1. The Bible is often alluded to in literature because everyone knows the Bible.

2. Writers allude to the Bible through plots, titles, motifs, characters, and themes.

3. The benefit of knowing and understanding Biblical allusions in literature is because you can find deeper meanings.

Chapter 8- Hanseldee and Greteldum

1. A work of literature that reflects a fairy tale I think is “Peter Pan”, in that work you have a boy who refuses to grow up and has magical powers.

2. “Peter Pan” creates both irony and deepens appreciation because you have a young boy who does not grow up, which is what all boys want when they are older and it deepens appreciation because he does not grow up.

Chapter 9- Its Greek to Me

1. To Foster the term myth means body of the story that matters.

2. Writers allude to mythology with components that parallel or represent a myth.

Chapter 10- It’s More Than Just Rain or Snow

1. Weather can be symbolic in literature because it can be shown as a new awakening (rain) or as a sensation of emptiness

2. Rain- cleansing; spring; new awakening

Rainbow- divine promise; peace between heaven and earth

3. Weather can often foreshadow future events. Usually, stormy or dreary weather will result in something bad occurring, such as a death or something important going wrong. Lovely weather, such as clear skies, usually represents peace and calm.

Interlude- Did He Mean That?

1. Allusions, and patterns we find when we read critically, one reason Foster states this is because writers know symbols, allusions, and patterns that their audience can easily relate to based on their knowledge in literature.

2. Writers provide sound evidence of their intentions in their works. It is important to notice the writer’s intentions because it helps us understand the story a lot better, and to further analyze the text more critically

Chapter 11-…More Than Its Gonna Hurt You: Concerning Violence

1. There are two major kinds of violence in books. The first is clearly stated/particular injury that characters bring upon themselves or upon other characters. The second is general harm brought on by the author, rather than the characters, to advance the plot or theme. A good example of the second is when Grandpa Joad became ill and died of a stroke in “The Grapes of Wrath”. Nobody in the story felt guilty about it. It was an act of the author towards the grandfather to advance the theme of the story. This experience gives the reader a feel for the (only lasting for a short time) nature of life. An example of the first type of violence is around the end of Fight Club where Tyler Durden has a fight with the unnamed main character. This fight is an external conflict mirroring the internal conflict within the main character, because of his split personality. This violence does not advance the story (related to the underlying messages or morals of a story) as the previous example had.

Chapter 12 – Is That a Symbol

1. The difference between symbolism and allegory is that a symbol represents something else, but an allegory has symbolic meaning.

2. Besides objects, gestures, movements, and emotions can be symbolic.

3. A reader should think with creative intelligence, listen to their instincts, and pay attention to what their feelings are portraying.

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