How to Read Literature Like a Professor


Thomas C. Foster

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How to Read Literature Like a Professor Terms


Invented by the Russian scholar Mikhail Bakhtin, intertextuality simply refers to the relationship between different literary works. It might help to think of all texts as existing in a giant network or web, with inherent… (read full term analysis)


The word archetype means the original type from which other copies are produced. It has different meanings within different contexts—for example, psychology or philosophy—but in literary analysis it refers to the shared understanding of certain… (read full term analysis)


The canon refers to a list of texts though to be essential to a given literary tradition. One can refer to the English canon or the Western canon, and indeed, in a Western context if… (read full term analysis)


A conceit is an extended metaphor that is used to structure a text. The example Foster cites is John Donne’s “The Flea,” a poem structured around the flea-as-metaphor for sexuality. It might be difficult to… (read full term analysis)


Noumenal means something related to the “noumenon”—originally a philosophical concept, used by Plato to refer to the essence of something (which cannot be detected through the senses, only through thought). In the context of literature… (read full term analysis)
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