Nelson-Summary_of_LitProf

Nelson-Summary_of_LitProf - From How to Read Literature...

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From How to Read Literature Like a Professor Thomas C. Foster Notes by Marti Nelson 1. Every Trip is a Quest (except when it’s not): a. A quester b. A place to go c. A stated reason to go there d. Challenges and trials e. The real reason to go—always self-knowledge 2. Nice to Eat With You: Acts of Communion a. Whenever people eat or drink together, it’s communion b. Not usually religious c. An act of sharing and peace d. A failed meal carries negative connotations 3. Nice to Eat You: Acts of Vampires a. Literal Vampirism: Nasty old man, attractive but evil, violates a young woman, leaves his mark, takes her innocence b. Sexual implications—a trait of 19 th century literature to address sex indirectly c. Symbolic Vampirism: selfishness, exploitation, refusal to respect the autonomy of other people, using people to get what we want, placing our desires, particularly ugly ones, above the needs of another. 4. If It’s Square, It’s a Sonnet 5. Now, Where Have I Seen Her Before? a. There is no such thing as a wholly original work of literature—stories grow out of other stories, poems out of other poems. b. There is only one story—of humanity and human nature, endlessly repeated c. “Intertexuality”—recognizing the connections between one story and another deepens our appreciation and experience, brings multiple layers of meaning to the text, which we may not be conscious of. The more consciously aware we are, the more alive the text becomes to us. d. If you don’t recognize the correspondences, it’s ok. If a story is no good, being based on Hamlet won’t save it. 6. When in Doubt, It’s from Shakespeare… a. Writers use what is common in a culture as a kind of shorthand. Shakespeare is pervasive, so he is frequently echoed. b. See plays as a pattern, either in plot or theme or both. Examples: i. Hamlet: heroic character, revenge, indecision, melancholy nature ii. Henry IV—a young man who must grow up to become king, take on his responsibilities iii. Othello—jealousy iv. Merchant of Venice—justice vs. mercy v. King Lear—aging parent, greedy children, a wise fool 7. …Or the Bible a. Before the mid 20 th century, writers could count on people being very familiar with Biblical stories, a common touchstone a writer can tap
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b. Common Biblical stories with symbolic implications i. Garden of Eden: women tempting men and causing their fall, the apple as symbolic of an object of temptation, a serpent who tempts men to do evil, and a fall from innocence ii. David and Goliath—overcoming overwhelming odds iii. Jonah and the Whale—refusing to face a task and being “eaten” or overwhelmed by it anyway. iv. Job: facing disasters not of the character’s making and not the character’s fault, suffers as a result, but remains steadfast v. The Flood: rain as a form of destruction; rainbow as a promise of restoration vi. Christ figures (a later chapter): in 20 th century, often used ironically vii. The Apocalypse—Four Horseman of the Apocalypse usher in the end
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Nelson-Summary_of_LitProf - From How to Read Literature...

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