Is that a FACT Mr. Foster?

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Okay so here's the general rule: whether it's Italy or Greece or Africa or Malaysia or Vietnam,when writers send characters south, it's so they can run amock. " 
How to Read Literature like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster. Chapter 19 Page 171

It may just be me but aren't "general rules" read to be a fact? Now how can Foster make a claim that is quite opinion based? I have read quite a few books and there are a lot where the character runs amock in the area that they live in. They need not travel anywhere. I have also read books where the character did travel but did not "run amock". 
 Is this really the same author that said that symbolism can mean different things to different people? If so, then why wouldn't he word his sentences to be more opinion sounding than based on facts? This is his general rule based on his experiences and no one else's and from my experience I cannot say that I agree with him. He is sounding a bit contradictory to me. He states one thing and preaches another. That is the only conclusion I can come to as to how he can have this statement stated as such. I also know that I am not the only one that has point toward Fosters contradictions before such as Andrew Adams who had stated in one of the first blogs he wrote for this semester title "Good Point Sometimes (http://blogs.setonhill.edu/AndrewAdams/2009/01/good_pointsometimes.html) . 
 I do not want to say that I disagree with everything single point that Foster makes but I do want to point out that it is opinion based and that it is a good starting point to understanding how to close read but it is not the only way to interpret a work of literature. 


3 Comments

I don't have the Foster book in front of me at the moment, but isn't he comparing "going south" to "going north"? That being the case, he's hinting at one possible way to interpret the direction.

By referring to "the general rule" he's leaving open the possibility that there are exceptions, and the way I recall the passage he seems to admit there are many of those exceptions.

However, I'm happy to see that you are doing a close reading of Foster and not just accepting what he says because it's in a book I assigned. I don't personally agree with everything Foster writes, but I wanted to expose you to more ideas than just my own and those of your peers.

My guess is that he's been trying to come up with numerous different ways to remind us that he's giving suggestions and calling our attention to possibilities, rather than giving us formulae to memorize. He is giving us his own personal opinions, based on his extensive reading and his teaching experience, and that opinion is valuable because of that experience.

Allow me to close-read the book title... it promises to describe how read literature like a professor... not like all professors, but like one specific professor, Foster. It's OK that he gives us his opinion, and it's OK that you challenge it. Were he writing an academic essay, he would make fewer sweeping statements, and do more rigorous research, but then I wouldn't have asked you to buy it, because it would no longer be accessible.

Nikita, you are pointing out some specific and important differences between Foster's writing moe (a personal essay) and an academic close reading. Good work.

Andrew Adams said:

Since I am a reference I guess I definitely respond. Seriously though, this is also a big problem of mine when it comes to this book. It seems that he only makes points to disprove them immediately, or later in the book. However, I will have to agree with Dr. Jerz in that the style of writing is definitely not structured to be as rigorously based as an argumentative essay would be. The way he breaks down everything as a pattern though, is what I actually wrote about in my blog this time around.

http://blogs.setonhill.edu/AndrewAdams/2009/02/one_story_cmon.html

While I will have to admit that this book does make a great number of valid points, I agree that the wording in some parts makes it contradictory, and hard to agree with.

Julianne Banda said:

I agree with you and Andrew on the point that Foster does seem to contradict himself. This has been bothering me as well while reading the book. Foster does make some good points but other times I wonder why he even bothered to bring it up if he was going to shoot down the point himself. However, like Jerz said, we need to remember this is not an academic essay and he is just giving suggestions. But still, with me I get annoyed with Foster at times because he gives so many examples and drags things out longer than needed.

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