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Michael Stoff, Director 305 East 23rd St, CLA 2.102, (G3600) Austin, TX 78712-1250 • 512-471-1442

Spring 2006

T C 603B • Composition and Reading in World Literature

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
42605 MWF
11:00 AM-12:00 PM
CRD 007A

Course Description

Our first theme this semester will be how stories reveal the people who tell them. For this, I have chosen a few books, stories, and poems in which writers or narrators discover (or hide) themselves. Our second theme will be character:  How do stories reveal the people they are about? A character in a story is an agent who is responsible for some of the story's action; we will discuss how the best storytellers endow their subjects with responsibility, and how they bring certain figures in the story into the narrative foreground, while leaving others to melt into the scenery.  We'll also discuss the connection between being a character in a story and having an ethical character. Roughly speaking, an ethical character is a reliable disposition to behave in certain ways, good or bad. Is there such a thing as ethical character in real life? Should a well-drawn literary character have a consistent ethical character? For this we'll read both fiction and plays. Our reading will commence with the first master-storyteller of the English language, Chaucer. We will then choose at least one play by Shakespeare that most members of the class do not know. In both cases, we will study how our authors modify the stories they have received in order to make them serve new literary purposes. We will then proceed to books, plays, and stories written in very recent years. Along the way we will take time for poetry, which we will read along with letters by the poets, so that we can see how poetry and life connect. For contemporary works, we will make use of poets and other writers who will be speaking at the Joynes Room during the semester.

About the Professor Woodruff is a philosopher, writer, and translator. He is currently finishing a book on theater.

Grading Policy

Two 500 word papers, one each for the first two weeks: 10% After that, a one-page reader response every other week for a total of five (pass/fail, no revisions): 0% A poetry workshop for those interested (ungraded): 0% Mid-term examination: 15% Final examination: 25% A graded research-type term paper of about 2500 words (a topic statement, at least one preliminary draft, and a final draft required; due on the dates listed on the syllabus). Penalties for lateness will apply: 30% Participation: 20% Attendance is also required at all classes. If you are more than 5 minutes late you are not in attendance by our standards. Penalties for absences apply.


Elizabeth Bishop, selected letters and poems (handout) Albert Camus, Caligula and Other Plays Geoffrey Chaucer, Canterbury Tales (The Prologue, The Knight, The Miller, The Reeve, and The Wife of Bath in original text) John Keats, selected poems and letters (handout) Jhumpa Lahiri, Interpreter of Maladies Arthur Miller, View from the Bridge Eugene O'Neill, Long Days Journey Into Night William Shakespeare, plays to be chosen by the class Tobias Wolff, Old School Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway Various poems and short stories


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