Presentation on theme: "How to Read Literature Like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines by Thomas C. Foster."— Presentation transcript:
How to Read Literature Like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines by Thomas C. Foster
Introduction “How’d He Do That?” What is the language of reading / the grammar of literature ? “…a set of conventions and patterns, codes and rules, that we learn to employ in dealing with a piece of writing” (xiii).
Conventions of stories and novels: Types of characters Plot rhythms Chapter structures Point-of-view limitations
Multiple Symbolism Example – The word spring can evoke in our imagination concepts such as youth, promise, new life, rebirth, fertility, and renewal.
Memory. Symbol. Pattern. “…the three items that…separate the professional reader from the rest of the crowd” (xv).
“Everything is a symbol of something, it seems, until proven otherwise” (xv). The professional reader “has a predisposition to see things as existing in themselves while simultaneously also representing something else” (xvi).
“Grendel, the monster in the medieval epic Beowulf (eighth century A.D.), is an actual monster, but he can also symbolize: (a) the hostility of the universe to human existence ( a hostility that medieval Anglo- Saxons would have felt acutely) and (b) a darkness in human nature that only some higher aspect of ourselves (as symbolized by the title hero) can conquer” (xvi).
What does Sigmund Freud have in common with a literary scholar? “Sigmund Freud ‘reads’ his patients the way a literary scholar reads texts, bringing the same sort of imaginative interpretation to understanding his cases that we try to bring to interpreting novels, poems, and plays.” “[Freud’s] identification of the Oedipal complex is one of the great moments in the history of human thought, with as much literary as psychoanalytical significance” (xvii).
Sigmund Freud / Oedipus Complex The Oedipus complex, in psychoanalytic theory, is a group of largely unconscious (dynamically repressed) ideas and feelings which centre around the desire to possess the parent of the opposite sex and eliminate the parent of the same sex. According to classical theory, the complex appears during the so-called "oedipal phase" of libidinal and ego development; i.e. between the ages of three and five, though oedipal manifestations may be detected earlier. The complex is named after the Greek mythical character Oedipus, who (albeit unknowingly) kills his father and marries his mother. Speaking of the mythical Oedipus, Freud put it in these terms: “ His destiny moves us only because it might have been ours – because the oracle laid the same curse upon us before our birth as upon him. It is the fate of all of us, perhaps, to direct our first sexual impulse towards our mother and our first hatred and our first murderous wish against our father. Our dreams convince us that this is so.”
Chapter One “Every Trip Is a Quest (Except When It’s Not)” The Quest A quester A place to go A stated reason to go there Challenges and trials en route A real reason to go there
Chapter One “Every Trip Is a Quest (Except When It’s Not)” “The real reason for the quest never involves the stated reason.” “[The questers] go because of the stated task, mistakenly believing that it is their real mission.” “The real reason for a quest is always self-knowledge.”
Chapter One “Every Trip Is a Quest (Except When It’s Not)” Quest Tale Examples Huck Finn The Lord of the Rings North by Northwest Star Wars
Chapter Two “Nice to Eat with You: Acts of Communion” com·mu·nion Pronunciation: \kə-`myü-nyən\ Function: noun Etymology: Middle English, from Latin communion-, communio mutual participation, from communis Date: 14th century 1: an act or instance of sharing 2 (a)capitalized : a Christian sacrament in which consecrated bread and wine are consumed as memorials of Christ's death or as symbols for the realization of a spiritual union between Christ and communicant or as the body and blood of Christ (b): the act of receiving Communion (c)capitalized : the part of a Communion service in which the sacrament is received 3: intimate fellowship or rapport : communication 4: a body of Christians having a common faith and discipline
Chapter Two “Nice to Eat with You: Acts of Communion” “Whenever people eat or drink together, it’s communion.” (8) “Generally, eating with another is a way of saying, ‘I’m with you, I like you, we form a community together.’ And that is a form of communion.”
Chapter Two “Nice to Eat with You: Acts of Communion” “…in literature…writing a meal scene is so difficult, and so inherently uninteresting, that there really needs to be some compelling reason to include one in the story. And that reason has to do with how characters are getting along. Or not getting along.” (8)
Assignment #1: Locate an eating scene in either Wuthering Heights or A Tale of Two Cities and explain the author’s purpose(s). Include page #, brief summary of scene (which characters are involved, what they are eating/drinking) and WHY that scene is important. Due next class period