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Foster, Thomas C.

Foster, Thomas C.




Home—East Lansing, MI. Office— Department of English, University of Michigan-Flint, 326 French Hall, 303 E. Kearsley St., Flint, MI 48502. E-mail—[email protected]


University of Michigan-Flint, began as associate professor, currently professor of English.


Form and Society in Modern Literature, Northern Illinois University Press (DeKalb, IL), 1988.

Seamus Heaney, Twayne Publishers (Boston, MA), 1989.

Understanding John Fowles, University of South Carolina Press (Columbia, SC), 1994.

How to Read Literature Like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading between the Lines, Quill Press (New York, NY), 2003.


Thomas C. Foster's books are, by and large, scholarly works for educated readers seeking insight into specific authors such as poet Seamus Heaney and John Fowles. In these works Foster employs the language and the preoccupations of an English professor, often with praiseworthy results. In an Irish Literary Supplement review of Seamus Heaney, for instance, Dillon Johnston wrote: "Foster reads closely, but never pedantically, showing us how prosody enhances pleasure." Christopher Wiseman, in his Ariel review of Understanding John Fowles, observed: "A major novelist is here—in that word now unfortunately sneered at by so many—appreciated. Foster … is careful and thorough;h3 . In short, this is a useful, sensible book, which will help students negotiate and enjoy the seductive meanderings and mysticisms within Fowles's domains."

Foster's How to Read Literature Like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading between the Lines is quite another matter. Written for a general audience, How to Read Literature Like a Professor clearly explains topics such as myth, symbolism, archetype, patterns in literature, and placing a literary work into historical context. In his commentary on the work for the HarperCollins Web site, Foster wrote that the book offers "a set of tools for satisfying … curiosity, a look at how an English professor cracks open a novel, poem, or play, investigates it, experiences it, understands it, so that anyone—novice, student, or book club reader—can take up a text and try using those tools themselves." Library Journal correspondent Rebecca Bollen, in her review of the work, praised Foster for his "ability to tackle such a vast and weighty topic in an informal and conversational manner."



Ariel, July, 1996, Christopher Wiseman, review of Understanding John Fowles, pp. 190-192.

Irish Literary Supplement, fall, 1990, Dillon Johnston, "An Ear to the Poem," p. 18.

Library Journal, April 1, 2003, Rebecca Bollen, review of How to Read Literature Like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading between the Lines, p. 98.

ONLINE, (September 30, 2003), Ron Kaplan, review of How to Read Literature Like a Professor.

HarperCollins, intro/ (September 30, 2003), Thomas C. Foster, comments and interviews on How to Read Literature Like a Professor.

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