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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 • Reading and Composition in World Literature

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
34890 MWF
1:00 PM-2:00 PM
MEZ 1.118

Course Description

This course will explore the classics, Homer, Greek tragedy, Dante and so on, primarily selecting works that are exalting and appalling. At least some of them scare me. Readings begin with the Iliad, an epic that like contemporary gang culture relates honor, disrespecting, and violence. Greek drama throws us into dilemmas of contradictory and perhaps incommensurate conceptions of justice and both undeniable and horrific passion. Anne Carson's translation of Sappho explores the intensities of desire, We then move to Dante, Chaucer, and Shakespeare and complete the course with A Book of Love Poetry, which, in the interests of truth in advertising I should note contains some poems that are more about sex.

About the Professor

Tony Hilfer got his Ph.D. at North Carolina, and works in American literature. He teaches 20th and 21st century American fiction, literature and ecology and is addicted to crime fiction and film noir.

Grading Policy

A commentary (1 page) on every work in the course, due the day we start it, which you should be prepared to dramatically read and defend. These should be papers with edge, not handbook stuff.
Two papers (5 pages each) on analyzing or arguing with a passage in one of our readings.
A description of the term paper topic and thesis (3 pages), including a preliminary account of the reading planned for the project. I will comment extensively on how the project may be further thought out (or rethought) rather than grade the description.
A first draft of the term paper. Again, no grade will be given (except for not doing it), but extensive comments and editorial suggestions will be provided.
A term paper, incorporating research, of 10+ pages.

Most of my criticism will be on the prospectus and first draft rather than telling students on their final version how they could have done it better. Students will receive the editorial advice that their professors routinely seek from their peers before final submission of a project. I find this structure facilitates superior papers.


Homer, Iliad (tr. Lombardo)
David Greene and Richard Lattimore, Greek Tragedies
Aeschylus, Agamemnon
Sophocles, Antigone
Euripides, Medea
[The previous two dramas present powerfully conceived tragic women. We will debate the significance of our responses to them.]
Sappho, If Not Winter: Fragments of Sappho (tr. Anne Carson)
Dante, Inferno (tr. Mark Musa)
Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales (Norton Edition): The General Prologue, The Miller's Tale, and The
Pardoner's Tale
Shakespeare, Othello
Shakespeare, King Lear
Jon Stallworthy, ed., A Book of Love Poetry


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