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Different Views

"A moment occurs in this exchange between professor and student when each of us adopts a look. My look says, 'What, you don't get it?' Theirs says, 'We don't get it. And we think you're making it up.' We're having a communication problem. Basically, we've all read the same story, but we haven't used the same analytical apparatus."

~ page xiii of the Introduction in Foster's How to Read Literature Like a Professor

This is funny because it's true--and not only just in terms of interaction between a teacher and students. Everyone could look at one work and each take something different out of it. As individuals, we all look at things differently. There are certain things that everyone would agree on, but not everything. It's even possible for everyone to agree that some detail is significant, but disagree on why it's significant. It all goes along with the idea that, as stated in class, there is no one true answer. For example, in class when we were divided into groups and had to discuss whatever poem was assigned to our group, our assessment of our assigned poem (Frost's Range-finding) was similar to the discussed assessment, but slightly different. We all agreed that it was describing a battle. Some of us took it metaphorically however, as opposed to literally. As Dr. Jerz pointed out, this showed how war can affect nature. The bullet mentioned in line 12 is literally a bullet going past the spiderweb. We took it to be figurative--the bullet actually being the fly mentioned in the following line. All of us turned to this detail, but looked at it differently.


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Comments (1)

Christopher Dufalla:

Interpretation is indeed a varied, yet beautiful thing. I read Foster's book with the perspective of gaining how a professor should approach speaking about interpretation to a student and not by merely seeing the story at face value. While I felt that Foster was slightly hypocritical in the sense that he preaches open interpretation and yet his book leaves little room for interpretation, I also felt that he does make an excellent point: interpretations will not always mesh.

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