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"How to Read Literature Like a Professor Revised" by Thomas C. Foster

Summary: In this chapter, the author tells the reader to picture themselves reading a story about a boy who is sixteen years old. The boy’s name is Kip, Kip is told to run an errand to the A & P to buy a loaf of Wonderbread. He is running this errand on his bike, which is not fancy. Along the way, he sees the “girl of his dreams,” along with his enemy Tony. Kip also finds himself lying to a Marine Recruiter, which means he will be sent to Vietnam.

Foster, the author of this novel, explains that an English professor would read this story is a night going on a quest. Foster describes and explains the layout of the story of the quest. Foster also explains how the readers must view the story structurally, a quest consists of five key elements. The elements are a quester, a place to go, a reason to go there, obstacles along the way, and the real reason for the quest.

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Quote: “The real reason for a quest is always self- knowledge” (Foster 3). In other words, the hidden meaning for a quest is for self- fulfillment, as well as to find their inner self. Personal Example: Another example of this would be Harry Potter. J. K Rowling created a series of Harry Potter book of which all consisted of a quest of the protagonist.

Chapter 2 (Nice to Eat With You: Acts of Communion)

Summary: In this chapter, the author relates a quote about cigars once said by Sigmund Freud to meals and the role they play in the works of Literature.

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Foster explains that when people eat meals together that is called communion. His students often like to argue that communion is only related to Christianity. In broader terms communion is when a temporary community is formed by people coming together to eat meals. Foster also explains that authors often use meals for characters to join together as one, or to even create a bond. This chapter explains how the word communion has multiple meanings, also the way they are used within the literature as a whole. Quote: “Here’s the thing to remember about communion of all kinds: in the real world, breaking bread together is an act of sharing and peace, since if you’re breaking bread you’re not breaking heads” (Foster 8). This explains that communion or breaking bread is a symbol for peace and unity when others come together to one place it’s a representation of positivity. Personal Example:

Chapter 3 (Nice to Eat You: Acts of Vampires)

Summary: In this chapter, Foster explains how there are even scarier things in the genre than vampires. He brings up the character Dracula, and the works he was presented in as being “evil yet strangely attractive male” who seems to prey upon young and attractive virgins. Foster explains the relationship between vampires and the fears of sexuality. He shows how vampirism is just the same as seduction, and selfishness, as well as being a sexual predator. Foster emphasizes the fact that vampires are the least bit of positive and people fear them for many sexual and negative reasons. Also in this chapter Foster explains the fact that vampires and ghosts have a lot in common. He backs ups his reasonings with many works of literature, which shows how ghosts appear to bring upon a message to a character. In the end, Foster emphasizes once again that ghosts and vampires will not only be about ghosts and vampires, which means that there will always be a deeper and broader meaning. Quote:

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Chapter 4 (Now, Where Have I Seen Her Before?)

Summary: In this chapter, Foster explains how literature is all about connecting the dots and making connections from previous readings and or works of literature. Foster shows how practice, as in continuously reading literature, can enhance one’s knowledge and allow them to get a better understanding of the work. In literature, there are a lot of references and connections that could be made, in terms of patterns, archetypes, and recurrences. With these connections the reading may make more sense and or it may be easier to read and understand. Foster claims that there is only one story which is the reason the network of intertextuality, which is the relationship between different literary works. The use of intertextuality brings upon deeper layers of meaning to the work, some which may not be noticed. Quote:

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Cite this page

"How to Read Literature Like a Professor Revised" by Thomas C. Foster. (2019, Nov 26). Retrieved from

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