How to Read Literature Like a Professor Chapters 2 and 3: Communion and Vampires
Watch the following clip and make mental notes of relationships with in this family unit. Also, what was point of having this conversation over family dinner? • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_82PrxpAQZo
Chapter 2. Nice to eat with you: acts of communion. • Typically, the term communion is most commonly associated with religion. When Christ had his last supper, he broke bread and gave it to his disciples telling them that to eat it was to eat of his flesh. He gave them wine, telling them that to drink it was to drink of his blood. • For literary purposes, communion can have a completely different meaning. In books, poems, movies, TV shows, short stories, when people eat, drink, smoke together, whether it is a large affair like thanksgiving dinner, or a small affair like coffee at the local Starbucks, it is a form of communion. • Communion can mean (but is not limited to any of these meanings): • Insight into character behavior and relationships (getting along or not getting along) • Sexual experience, consuming desire • Belonging to a group, or being isolated from a group • Life/death
Another Example. Now, What do you notice?: • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGVwn6xmCeI
How to spot Acts of communion in literature: • Pay attention to when characters sit down to dinner, when they are at a bar or coffee shop having a drink, or when they have an after dinner drink or smoke. Most of the time, there is more than just eating and drinking occurring. Ask yourself: Who are the characters participating in the dinner? What is their relationship? What exterior factors are occurring that have brought these characters together? Are they getting along? Are there ulterior motivations behind why they are meeting? What are they discussing? Is there anything that they should be discussing that they aren’t? Why aren’t they? • Examples from pop culture: • Katniss shoots the apple through the pig’s mouth while the game makers are eating and ignoring her (The Hunger Games). • Sheldon, Penny, Leonard, Raj, and Howard sit down in the living room for take out (usually each episode of The Big Bang Theory) and discuss what is on their minds. • In National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, the family dinner includes a dry turkey, an electrocuted cat, and jello-mold make with cat food.
Chapter 3. Nice to eat you: Acts of vampires. • Vampires, ghosts, cannibals, monsters, demons. What do they all represent in literature? There are many interpretations. But the following can apply: • Selfishness • exploitation • Sex (yes, sex!) • Loss of innocence • Destruction of youth, beauty • Temptation, the Fall • Consumption on some level ****Vampire tales do not have to be literal (fangs, bats, etc.).
The Vampire tale: • Key elements: • Older man (knowledgeable in ways of world, not always the good ways) • Younger woman (typically a virgin, innocent) • Older man lures young woman • Older man strips away/feeds off of younger woman (tempts her) • Young woman loses her innocence and is destroyed • Man is shadow and temptress, woman is tragic heroine
Where are you going, where have you been? • Read the short story “Where are you going, where have you been?” by Joyce Carol Oats. WARNING: This story is intense! Please try to read it as a mature adult. As you read, connect the story to HRL: Acts of Vampires. Be ready to discuss tomorrow.