Reading Literature Like a Professor

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"Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar." - Sigmund Freud (How to Read Literature Like a Professor- Foster p.7)

I chose this quote, from the chapter entitled "Nice to Eat with You: Acts of Communion" because I think that when it comes to reading literature, so much can be discovered if you chose to read between the lines. Sometimes things are not always cut and dry. How one individual interprets a section in a book can be completely different than another persons interpretation. Maybe an individual had just experienced a tragedy before reading a book, and because of that, they read in a specific mindframe. Then, a few months later, they read the book again, and reach a whole knew conclusion from the text. This is what makes literature so interesting. It is relatable, it is investigatable. Readers are able to draw their own conclusions, and they can not be told that those conclusions are incorrect.

4 Comments

Alyssa Sanow said:

I agree with you completely that interpretation varies from reader to reader based on how much they choose to "read between the lines" as well as their personal experiences. I also agree that readers pick up on different things each time they read and re-read a novel. Foster's attempt to mainstream the interpretation of literature, however,takes away from this idea and mandates what constitutes "communion" or "a quest." I would rather have the freedom to determine what I see as a quest than have my interpretation of reading turned into a set of steps!

Alyssa Sanow said:

I agree with you completely that interpretation varies from reader to reader based on how much they choose to "read between the lines" as well as their personal experiences. I also agree that readers pick up on different things each time they read and re-read a novel. Foster's attempt to mainstream the interpretation of literature, however,takes away from this idea and mandates what constitutes "communion" or "a quest." I would rather have the freedom to determine what I see as a quest than have my interpretation of reading turned into a set of steps!

Aja Hannah said:

I don't mind Foster telling us his point of view. In reality, it really is just his point of view. There are so many other ways to interpret work that his is just one.

But, I do also like his approach. And I can relate to you about re-reading books at different stages of life. I've done that with several books from my childhood and it also works from childhood movies/shows as well. There are elements that we didn't understand when we were little, but now they apply.

Alicia Campbell said:

I also agree that interpretation varies from person to person, and even at different times in the same reader. Your interpretation gives me hope because when I interpret a piece of literature, sometimes I feel way off base in comparison with the interpretations of others. Since there is not a wrong interpretation, I suppose my mindframe or situation at the time of reading may simply have been unique in comparison to my peers. While interpretations may differ in the same person from time to time, I also think interpretations follow patterns according to a person's values, passions, desires, and past experience. For instance, in reading all four of the assigned texts, I found that quotes of similar themes caught my attention.

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