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How to Read Literature Like a Professor

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  • Pages: 11
  • Word count: 2745
  • Category: Memory

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How do memory, symbol, and pattern affect the reading of literature? How does the recognition of patterns make it easier to read complicated literature? Has there ever been a time when your appreciation of a literary work was enhanced by understanding?

Memory, symbol, and patterns have a big role in literature. While reading, the reader uses memory and looks for “correspondences and corollaries”. This is basically their way of thinking ‘where have I seen this before?’ They’re looking for recognition of ideas and themes from other sources, whether it be from books they’ve read before or from something they’ve seen. In literature, anything in the text can represent be a symbol for something. There are usually multiple ways to interpret that specific thing because people have different ideas. When looking at patterns in literature, you want to look deeper into the text.

You want to look past the obvious details and think more advanced. If there is something specific happening multiple times, think ‘why?’ When reading, you want to question everything and try to find those answer yourself. There has been a time where my appreciation had been enhanced by understanding. During our lesson on Julius Caesar, I didn’t have a lot of background on him except for the basics. As we read through the story in our books, I learned more about him by reading deeper into the text and figuring out what type of person he really was. I used the notes in the side margins for defining words that were unfamiliar to me or when I was confused on a specific quote one of the characters had sad. When we watched the short clips of words being passed between two people, such as Portia and Brutus, I had a better understanding of what they were talking about and what exchange was happening between them.

January 10, 2018
Chapter 1
Consider the five aspects of a QUEST and then apply them to something you have read (or viewed). Use the list on p.3-5 to structure your response. In How to Read Literature like a Professor, Foster shows examples of QUEST. The Hunger Games shows an example of QUEST. The quester is a sixteen-year-old girl named Katniss Everdeen. She must go to The Capital and to The Hunger Games that is taking place there. Her sister, Primrose, got picked at the drawing of the names. Katniss Everdeen volunteers in her place to protect her sister. The biggest challenge she must face is the Hunger Games itself. She must fight the other tributes there with her. It becomes a matter of survival and instincts. She goes against the unknown, all while fighting alongside her “star-crossed lover”, Peeta Mellark. In the end, it is revealed that she is the symbol of a rebellion and the start of a revolution against the President and the government system. She is used to fight for the other districts for freedom and justice.

January 17, 2018
Chapter 2
Choose a meal scene from a literary work (or film) and apply the ideas of chapter 2.

In Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, the dining pavilion is brought up multiple times all throughout the books. The dining pavilion is an area in Camp Half Blood where the demigods and camp directors can sit and eat. The pavilion is designed to look Greek like as it is a Greek camp. The plates and cups that are set out are cast on so when someone commands it, it would be filled with whatever drink they want. The tables are set up so that each God/Goddess has their table. For example, if there is a child of Hermes, they would sit at the Hermes table. The rules are that they cannot go to other tables while dining. They are strictly supposed to stay at their tables. Before they eat dinner, they are to dump a portion of their food into the big fire as a blessing to the gods. In the first book, the Lightning Thief, Percy is introduced to all these concepts and prays to his dad, whoever he may be, to claim him so that he doesn’t feel like more of an outcast than he already does. In the third book, The Titan’s Curse, a new character named Nico di Angelo had gotten angry and had broken part of the pavilion floor, causing it to have a long, thick scar across it. After being claimed, Percy and Nico were discovered to be children of the Big Three and had to sit at the table who represents their parent.

The tables in the dining pavilion brought familiarity, belonging, and acceptance. Like is said in the chapter “there is an act of sharing and peace with the people around you.” Each table has different characteristics and different kinds of people. They each, in their own way, form a community with the same people at the table. There is a bond between the members sitting there. Rick Riordan wrote these scenes to show individuality and the interaction between characters. During the meal you can infer that the characters are getting to know each other more and learning different things about each other. If they’re going to be living in the same area and are going to around each other often, there needs to be some sort of trust among them.

January 13, 2018
Chapter 3

What are the essentials of the Vampire story? Apply this to a literary work you have read or a film you have viewed.
The essentials to a vampire story is that he’s alluring, dangerous, mysterious, and he tends to focus on beautiful, unmarried (meant virginal) women. It also includes selfishness, exploitation, and the refusal to respect the autonomy of other people. In Stephanie Meyer’s book, Twilight, the vampire character would be Edward Cullen.
In the tv series, The Vampire Diaries, vampires come into town one day and discover a beautiful girl who looks like someone they knew in the past. Thinking it was the last person, they try talking to her but discovers that she is very different from who they thought she was. Ends up she the doppelganger of the past girl and both vampires fall in love with her. She must choose between the brothers and ends up choosing the one that has the essentials of a vampire. He was alluring, dangerous, mysterious but had ended up showing the girl his soft side. He is selfish for taking the girl away from his brother and for loving her without caring how she felt. He was disrespectful towards other people because while protecting the girl, he’s gone on multiple murder rampages. In reality, the girl wouldn’t pick the dangerous creature but in fictional stories, they do the opposite.

January 22, 2018
Chapter 4

Select three sonnets and show which form they are. Discuss how their content reflects the form (include sonnets and online annotation showing your analysis).
On His Blindness (John Milton)
(1600’s; was blind at age 48; sonnet about how he struggles to understand what God wants him to do.)
When I consider how my light is spent, A
(my light = my life)
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide, B
(turned blind half way through his life; all he sees now is a wide darkness)
And that one Talent which is death to hide, B
(his poetry is his talent)
Lodg’d with me useless, though my Soul more bent A
To serve therewith my Maker, and present C
My true account, least he returning chide, D
(who he truly is, what his poetry really reveals)
Doth God exact day-labor, light deny’d, D
I fondly ask; But patience to prevent C
That murmur, soon replies, God doth not need E
Either man’s work or his own gifts, who best F
Bar his mildew yak, they serve him best, his State G
Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed E
And post o’re Land and Ocean without rest: F
They also serve who only stand and waite. G
(God will only help those who are patience)
Chaos in 14 Lines (Edna St. Vincent Millay)
I will put Chaos into fourteen lines A
(Description or name of a person or the way something is)
And keep him there; and let him thence escape B
(“him” confirms that she is talking about a male: from a place or source previously)
If he be lucky; let him twist, and ape B
(Ape is an animal; she’s probably comparing him to being wild and uncontrollable)
Flood, fire, and demon– his adroit designs A
(He causes destruction and ruin) (adroit – clever or skillful in using hands/mind)
Will strain to nothing in the strict confines A
Of this sweet Order, where, in pious rape, B
(order is capitalized to represent a person or of importance)
I hold his essence and amorphous shape, B
(vague; unclassifiable) (she has him in her grasp, he’s with her but she doesn’t recognize who he is.)
Till he with Order mingles and combines. A
Past are the hours, the years, or our duress, C
His arrogance, our awful servitude: D
I have him. He is nothing more than less C
Than something simple not yet understood; D
(saying how he’s not open to others and that he isn’t understood)
I shall not even force him to confess; C
Or answer. I will only make him good. D
When I have Fears that I May Cease to Be (John Keats)
When I have fears that I may cease to be A
(Fear of death)
Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain, B
(before he’s written books or more poetry that he could come up)
Before high-piled books, in charactery, A
Hold like rich garners the full-ripened grain; B
When I behold upon the night’s starred face C
(he’s looking at the stars)
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance, D
(through his mind, he symbolizes clouds as love or he thinks that through the clouds, Heaven, is a place where he could find romance.)
And think that I may never live to trace C
Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance; D
(never live to make a mark)
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour, E
(a woman)
That I shall never look upon thee more, F
Never have relish in the faery power E
(magical and powerful)
Of unreflecting love! -then on the shore F
(he’s never had a love that felt magical)
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think, G
Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink. G
(He’s all alone and he thinks that he’ll die without love and fame)

On His Blindness is an example of a Petrarchan sonnet. It splits in eight octaves and six sestets. The author had become blind half way through his life and he had faced many struggles and challenges. In the first and second line, I think he thinks about how he lived his life and how he lives it in a dark place now that he’s halfway through his life. He talks about God a lot and brings up multiple things from the Bible. Chaos in 14 Lines is another example of a Petrarchan sonnet. It has the first eight lines, or octave, as the first part and the second has six lines, or the sestet. It has some rhyming at the end of the lines, for example, lines two and three, it says “And keep him there; and let him thence escape. If he be lucky; let him twist, and ape.”

The last words escape and ape rhyme. This continues in multiple lines throughout the sonnet. I think the sonnet is talking about a man that she was in love with. Throughout the sonnet, the poet refers to “Him”. In the first line, it says “Chaos” which I think represents the type of relationship or person he is. She explains how he is misunderstood, but she won’t push him in opening up to her. Her whole goal is to make him a better person. “I will only make him good.” When I Have Fears That I May Cease To Be is an example of a Shakespearean sonnet. It has rhyming in every other line and has three sets of four lines and a pair of two lines at the end. After the second set of four lines, it changes focus. He talks about what he fears and doubts his ability in writing. He then goes into talking about writings of a poet. The last couple of lines, he goes into a fantasy like explanation of love.

January 24, 2018
Chapter 5

Define intertextuality. Discuss 2-3 examples that have helped you in reading specific works.
Intertextuality is when stories grow from other stories or the interaction between stories. They have their own ideas, but they also share some connections with other stories. It could be influenced direct and obvious or it could be subtle and vague. If the author doesn’t understand the reference or connection, there is a possibility that they could find a different connection by looking at symbols, patterns, allusions. Dialogue helps create a deeper understanding. An example would be Sherilyn Kenyon’s, Infinity series. The book involves a teen who discovers a new world that has demons and hunters. This can be connected to Cassandra Clark’s, Mortal Instruments series. This book also involves demons and hunters, along with other mythical creatures. The teens in both are automatically sucked into the new world. Another example would be Jay Asher’s, Thirteen Reasons Why, and Cat Clarke’s, Undone. Both are about a person they know committing suicide and the main character trying to figure out the reason(s) why. They go through their own curiosity and gets sucked into their own experience.

January 29, 2018
Chapter 6

Discuss a work that you are familiar with that alludes to or reflects Shakespeare. Show how the author uses this connection thematically. Read pages 44-46 carefully. In these pages Foster shows how Fugard reflects Shakespeare through both plot and theme. In you discussion, focus on theme.

How fugard reflects Shakespeare

I believe that Sleeping Beauty reflects Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Aurora is a princess from another castle, but she was sent away in isolation. She was protected/safe and was not allowed to talk to or interact with people/strangers. One day, she was out dancing and singing when she meets the prince, Phillip. This is like Romeo and Juliet as they met at a ball. It was instantly love at first sight for both literary works and it was not allowed. In Sleeping Beauty, she pricks her finger on a cursed spinning wheel that puts her in a deep sleep. After hearing the news, Prince Phillip hurries to get to the princess, fighting through many obstacles. When he gets to Aurora, he gives her a kiss and it wakes her up.

In Romeo and Juliet, Juliet takes a potion from Friar Lawrence that puts her to sleep for three days. Romeo thinking that she is dead, commits suicide by drinking a poison that he had gotten from the Friar. As he tries to get back to Juliet, he has to go through obstacles as well, except his contains killing another person. He gets to Juliet and dies at her side. She wakes up minutes later, sees her Romeo dead and commits suicide herself by stabbing herself with his dagger. Phillip and Aurora were to be married to unite their kingdoms. In Romeo and Juliet, after their deaths, their families came together and united as well since they could share the despair and loss. In the end, love makes you do reckless things and nothing can keep you away from each other when it’s real.

February 2, 2018
Chapter 7

Read “Araby” (available online). Discuss Biblical allusions that Foster does not mention. Look at the example of the “two great jars.” Be creative and imaginative in these connections.

In How to Read Literature Like a Professor, Thomas Foster mentions the story, Araby by James Joyce. He explains how a garden, a serpent, and a forbidden fruit is used. In the beginning of the Araby, it mentions a two-story house that was previously owned by a priest who had died. In the backyard there is a wild garden with an apple tree in the middle. This is connected to Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden, which the tree represents good and evil. There is also a reference to a chalice or a goblet, representing the girl in Araby and her importance. He praises her by saying “O’ love.” He describes her casting “an Eastern enchantment” on him when she’s in love with him. He falls in love with her from a distance. At the end, he gets played by the girl he was infatuated with and becomes “a creature driven and derided by vanity”, which is often referred to adulthood. This shows the transition from boy to adulthood and him losing his innocence as he is revealed to what life is really like.

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