T C E603 • E603: Composition and Reading in World Literature
11:00 AM-12:30 PM
This course introduces some of the greatest and most influential works of literature written in or translated into English. Through reading and discussing them, we will become better acquainted with stories basic to our culture. Topics of discussion will include the emotions and beliefs that influence characters to act as they do, the way that society construes and deals with these emotions and beliefs, and how poets represent them. In short, we will consider why characters do as they do--what makes them tick--and how such motives are related to the literary forms in which they appear. Categorically, the concerns that will focus our discussions belong primarily to ethics, psychology, and poetics. This is a great books course emphasizing close reading and articulate written and oral expression. Class will proceed by way of discussion. Students may be asked to present their short essays in order to spark discussion, engage other points of view, provide useful examples, and receive helpful criticism. On some occasions, students will be asked to suggest revisions of other students' essays.
About the professor: John Rumrich is Thaman Professor of English and editor of TSLL. He specializes in early modern British literature and currently is working on the Modern Library Edition of Milton and the Norton Critical Edition of British Poetry 1600-1660.
Journals: Three entries per week are required, and each should take about 30 minutes to write. Entries should offer a blend of summary and commentary or reaction to the works on the syllabus, though occasional meandering is acceptable and expected. This is a pass-fail assignment. An unsatisfactory journal will lower the students final mark by one full grade. Memory Work: You will be asked to select passages totaling eighty lines of verse to memorize for oral recitation. This assignment will count for 20% of the final grade. Quizzes: During the semester, there will be six or seven unannounced quizzes on the reading. Students lowest quiz grade will be dropped. No makeup quizzes. Quizzes will count for 30% of the semester's grade. Essays: Regular short essays relevant to the assignments and class preoccupations should foster the ability to translate impressions into lucid expressions of relevant questions, doubts, analogies, definitions, and critical judgments. I stress competence in the elements of style and will regularly devote class time to composition skills. Formal essays will count for 50% of your grade. Attend class regularly to avoid the penalty of a lower grade.
Chaucer, General Prologue, Knights Tale, Millers Tale; Ovids Metamorphoses, (excerpts from the seventeenth-century translation by George Sandys); Genesis, Judges, the Gospel according to John, selected epistles (Geneva Bible, 1588); Shakespeare, Midsummer Nights Dream, Hamlet, selected sonnets; Milton, Samson Agonistes; Swift, A Tale of a Tub; Johnson, Lives of the English Poets; Keats, Eve of St. Agnes; Dickinson, selected poems; short stories or a novel yet to be chosen.