Study Guide How to Read Literature Like a Professor

Study Guide: How to Read Literature Like a Professor

“How to Read Literature Like a Professor” by Thomas C. Foster is a comprehensive guide that aims to help readers understand and appreciate literature on a deeper level. Foster explores various literary techniques, symbols, themes, and patterns commonly found in literature, providing readers with the tools to analyze and interpret texts with greater insight. This study guide is designed to assist readers in navigating the concepts presented in the book and to enhance their reading experience.

Chapter Summaries:
1. Every Trip is a Quest (Except When It’s Not): This chapter discusses the common elements of a quest narrative, such as the presence of a hero, a destination, and various challenges. Foster also explores the idea of the quest as a metaphor for personal growth and self-discovery.

2. Nice to Eat with You: Acts of Communion: In this chapter, Foster examines the significance of shared meals in literature, which often symbolize unity, bonding, and intimacy among characters. He explores how these communal acts can represent much more than just eating together.

3. Nice to Eat You: Acts of Vampires: Foster delves into the symbolism of vampires and their representation in literature. He explains how vampires often embody themes of power, seduction, and the loss of innocence.

4. If It’s Square, It’s a Sonnet: This chapter provides an overview of the sonnet form and its characteristics. Foster explores how poets use structure and form to convey meaning and emotions in their work.

5. Now, Where Have I Seen Her Before?: Foster explores the concept of intertextuality, where authors borrow ideas, characters, or plots from other works of literature. He explains how recognizing these connections can deepen the reader’s understanding of a text.

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6. When in Doubt, It’s from Shakespeare…: Shakespeare’s influence on literature and his enduring presence in contemporary works is discussed in this chapter. Foster highlights how Shakespeare’s themes, characters, and language are often referenced or alluded to by authors.

7. …Or the Bible: Similar to the previous chapter, Foster explores the Bible’s influence on literature. He explains how biblical allusions can enhance the depth and meaning of a text.


Q: Do I need to have read a lot of classical literature to understand this book?
A: No, while having some knowledge of classical literature can be helpful, it is not a prerequisite to understanding “How to Read Literature Like a Professor.” The book provides ample examples and explanations to help readers grasp the concepts.

Q: Can this book be useful for students studying literature in school?
A: Absolutely! “How to Read Literature Like a Professor” is a valuable resource for students studying literature, as it provides a framework for analyzing and interpreting texts. The book’s insights can be applied to various literary works, making it a useful tool for academic study.

Q: Is this book only for English literature enthusiasts?
A: While “How to Read Literature Like a Professor” is particularly relevant to those interested in literature, its concepts can be applied to other forms of storytelling as well, such as film, television, or even visual arts. The book’s principles can help readers develop a critical eye for interpreting various narratives.

Q: Can this book be helpful for aspiring writers?
A: Yes, aspiring writers can benefit greatly from reading “How to Read Literature Like a Professor.” By understanding the techniques and symbolism used in literature, writers can improve their own storytelling abilities and create more meaningful and impactful narratives.

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This study guide provides a brief overview of the chapters in “How to Read Literature Like a Professor” and addresses some frequently asked questions. By using this guide alongside the book, readers can deepen their understanding of literature and develop the skills to analyze and appreciate literary works on a more profound level.