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

Fall 2007

T C E603A • Composition and Reading in World Literature

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
34885 MWF
11:00 AM-12:00 PM
PAR 210

Course Description

In this section of E603, the first semester will be devoted to a close reading of major texts from classical antiquity to the Renaissance: Homer, Odyssey; Vergil, Aeneid; Dante, Inferno; Boccaccio, The Decameron; and Cervantes, Don Quixote. The emphasis will be on how these narratives dialogue with one another: how does Vergil rewrite the epics of Homer? why has Dante taken Vergil as his guide through the Inferno? how do the hundred stories of Boccaccio engage the 100 cantos of Dante? why did Cervantes become known as the Spanish Boccaccio? Setting one work against another, we will consider such thematic connections as the heroic quest (whether for home, for empire, or for paradise), the nature of story-telling and especially of fictions (including lies) told or encountered by characters within the narratives, and how in a world of fictions we can determine what is true, how we can understand the ways in which literature represents truth, and how this might indeed be a truth that can set us free.

The reading and writing for 603A will provide the background for E603B. It has often been said that all of modern fiction derives ultimately from Don Quixote, an assertion that we will test by reading a selection of the great European novels from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries. The skills developed in writing the short papers for E603A will be put to work on a longer term paper for 603B.

Grading Policy

Close reading will open our eyes to the past, to the styles and values that define what we mean by such terms as 'antiquity,' medieval, and Renaissance. At the same time, we will ask how this cultural heritage speaks across the centuries to us as a class and to each of us individually. The writing assignments will be designed as an extension of class discussions, both placing a premium on interest, clarity, insight, and persuasive argument. The papers will be keyed to the reading, one paper for each work, at roughly three-week intervals: 5 papers in all, each 4-5 pages in length.


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