How to read like a professor

Topics: ArtSymbolism


Sample donated:

Last updated: May 6, 2019

Every Trip Is a Quest (Except When It’s Not)
a. A questerb. A place to goc.

A stated reason to go thered. Challenges and trialse. The real reason to go—always self-knowledge

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Nice to Eat With You: Acts of Communion
a. Whenever people eat or drink together, it’s communionb. Not usually religiousc.

Communion is an act of peace and sharing.d. A failed meal or communion is a bad sign.

Nice to Eat You: Acts of Vampires
a. Literal Vampirism: Nasty old man, attractive but evil, violates a young woman, leaves his mark, takes her innocenceb. Symbolic Vampirism: selfishness, exploitation, refusal to respect the autonomy of other people, using people to get what we want, placing our desires, particularly ugly ones, above the needs of another.

Now, Where Have I Seen Her Before?

There is no such thing as a wholly original work of literature—Literature grows out of other literatureb. “Intertexuality”—recognizing the connections between one story and another deepens our appreciation and experience, brings multiple layers of meaning to the text, which readers may not consciously notice. The more aware of the possibility that text is speaking to other texts we become, the more similarities we notice.

When in Doubt, It’s from Shakespeare…
a. Shakespeare being a wide spread and well known writer is frequently echoed throughout several other literary works.

b.Plays are often similar in plot or theme. Sometimes both.

…Or the Bible
a.The utilization of biblical allusions in literature is a common practice.

b.If something going on in a text seems to be beyond the scope of the story or poem’s immediate dimensions, look for allusions to older and bigger texts.

Hanseldee and Greteldum
a. Fairy Tales and “kiddie lit” are well known and are thus used for plot structures and references.

b. Hansel and Gretel, a tale of children lost and far from home is a common touch stone for literature in the late twentieth century.

It’s Greek to Me
a. Myth is a body of story that mattersb. Along with, Biblical stories, Fairy tales and Shakespeare, Greek myths are often used as drawing power for plot structure.


It’s more than just rain or snow

a. Weather is never just weather. It is often used as a plot device.

b. Rain is symbolically cleansing and restorative. It is also a principal element of spring which symbolizes life.

c. Rainbows symbolize divine promise and peaced. Fog symbolizes confusione. Snow is the same as rain and can be used for just about anything

Never Stand Next To The Hero
a. Characters who stand next to the hero often play a significant role in the story but put themselves in a fatal, hazardous position.b.

Characters are not people.They are products if writer’s imagination.

Interlude: Does he mean that?
a. More often than not the author is intentionally alluding to an obscure work, using symbols or following a certain pattern.

. . .

More Than Its Gonna Hurt You: Concerning Violence

a. Violence is always symbolic. b. Character Violence – holds negative connotations and feelings such as guilt.

c. Narrative violence – Relates to the main idea or the theme of the book.

Is That A SymboI?
a. Not all symbols are straightforward and some are ambiguous. If a symbol is reduced to one meaning, It’s an allegory.

It’s all Political
a. Everything is political(To an extent) in the sense that everything has an underlying message reflecting society and the world surrounding the author.

Yes, She’s a Christ Figure, Too
a. Knowledge of religion can prove useful when reading due to the religious undertones many books haveb.There a several qualities that may imply that the characters is a Christ figure such as:-Sacrifice for others-Wounds on the hands and feet-Being unmarried, preferably celibate-Being Thirty Three years old.

Flights Of Fancy

Humans don’t fly. If a person is suspended In the air he is:-A superhero-A ski jumper-Crazy-A circus act-Suspended on wires-An angel-Heavily symbolicb. Flight symbolizes:-Fredom-Spirit-Love-Magicc. If a character falls(certain death fall)during flight and survives it symbolizes rebirth

It’s all about Sex . . .

Authors often use symbolism to indirectly represent sex such as-Tall Buildings(Male sexuality)-Rolling landscapes(Female sexuality)-Intercourse(Falling down the stairs)

. . .

Except Sex

a. Sex in novels are often metaphors for other things like pleasure, sacrifice, submission and rebellion.

If She Comes Up, It’s Baptism
a. Drowning symbolizes-Death(If they die)-Rebirth(If they survive)-The death of an old identity

Geography Matters . .


a. Geography can be used to create imagery and emotion.

It can also be used to strengthen the plot and create mood and tone.b. Whenever a writer sends one of their characters down south, it’s so they can run amokc.

Its not necessarily the place that matters in prose and poems, it’s the ideas that the place leads us to

. . . So Does Season
a. Spring symbolizes youth, childhood and life Summer symbolizes adulthood, romance, fufillment and passion Autumn symbolizes decline, middle-age, and harvest Winter symbolizes old age resentment and death

Interlude: One Story
a. There is one story and it’s about everything and anything.

Marked For Greatness
-Marks and imperfections such as Oedipus’s Achilles tendon all have meaning.

He’s Blind For A Reason, You Know

Blindness isn’t always physicalIy. Even when it is, there is usually a figurative blindness at workb. Necessary information is typically introduced early in the book.

It’s Never Just Heart Disease .

. . And Rarely Just Illness

a. Heart Disease usually more than just that and signifies deep emotional suffering. Characters with emotional struggle are the ones subject to heart disease.

The physicaln pain shows how strong the emotions are.b. Diseases should be mysterious, picturesque, and symbolic.

Don’t Read With Your Eyes
a. Read, not just from your own point of view, but from a view point that allows for sympathy and understanding of the cultural, historical,social and personal background.

It’s My Symbol and I’ll Cry If I Want To
a. Use past knowledge/literary works and context to better understand and find meaning in other literary works

Is He Serious? And Other Ironies

Irony trumps everythingb. Irony- the expression of one’s meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect.

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