Reading Literature While Reading Minds

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"English professors, as a class, are cursed with memory."

It would appear as though memory can indeed be a curse.  The plight of a literature professor can be quite evident: a classroom full of youths that are all formulating ideas pertaining to a  specific literary work for the very first time whilst the teacher has more prior knowledge of the works themes, symbols, and other various literary elements/devices...perhaps even years of prior knowledge.  This places the students at an obvious disadvantage.

Judging from the introduction and first several chapters of Foster's text, it is clear that the professor must get inside the mind of the student and tweek the thought pattern a tad bit.  Spoonfeeding ideas is a bad idea, but the teacher must guide the students.  In order to guide a student, one must first know where he or she stands with respect to his or her own perspective.  Mind reading is a task at which I by no means excel, but a person can certainly get an idea of point of view.

The professor must be able to get the student to look past literal meanings.  Students need to learn to scan for allusions, symbolism, themes, and various other conventions.  In order to be well versed in all of these aspects, the student should read frequently for what we fail to use, we lose.  Reading books sharpens the mind and permits the student to understand terminology better as well as gain experience in deeper reading.  There is indeed more on a page than what meets the eye.

Literature is full of devices and conventions; this is accepted as fact.  What the professor must be able to accomplish is to see that students can identify such elements within reading.  Understanding the perspective of a student is a base, but upon that base a solid framework must be raised: students should be able to recognize common threads of devices that make up the fabric that is literature.


Jennifer Prex said:

That can certainly be a hard job at times, I'm sure. Even though everyone has to start at the beginning, the more one learns, the harder it is to remember how one's thought process worked before. It is easy to forget that not everyone has attained that same level of knowledge.

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