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

Fall 2004

T C E 603A • E 603A: Composition and Reading in World Literature

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
31955 TTh
9:30 AM-11:00 AM
PAR 104

Course Description

“Larger universities must find ways to find ways to create a sense of place and to help students develop small communities within the larger whole.” Carnegie’s Reinventing Undergraduate Education: A Blueprint for America’s Research Universities (

We will explore our sense of place as semioticians: readers of the texts the world presents to us, especially those in nature and in architecture and their representation in world literature, science, sculpture, and painting. One of our mottos will be “think outside the box.” Hence, some class meetings will be outside the classroom box, devoted to drawing and writing about nature, buildings, and works of art, at campus buildings and nature sites as well as the Japanese garden at Zilker Park, the state Capitol building and St. Mary’s cathedral downtown. We will write answers to basic questions about ourselves and our environments, such as “what is this?” “where did it come from?” and “why is it here?” We will regard objects around us as palimpsests and trace their layers of meaning through corridors of time back to various eras and places. For example, questioning fossils in Waller Creek will lead us back to the origins of life on earth and forward to the writings of Darwin and Tennyson and to the contemporary debate between evolution and creationism; the carved griffins on the mantle in the Littlefield House will leads us, via the internet, to medieval cathedrals, and what Adams and Ruskin wrote about them. About the Professor Jerome Bump was awarded the Jeanne Holloway Award for undergraduate teaching, the Dad's Association Centennial Teaching Fellowship for instructing Freshmen, the Rhodes Centennial Teaching Fellowship for directing the Computer Writing and Research Laboratory (devoted primarily to lower division instruction), and chosen as a Mortar Board Preferred Professor. He is the author of Gerard Manley Hopkins and many essays and reviews. At the moment he particularly interested in writing about nature and architecture, especially gargoyles. For more information see

Grading Policy

The final grade (1000 points) will be determined as follows: 500 by two eight-page formal writing projects on paper or on the web (150 for each first draft, 100 for each revision), 300 by informal writing assignments (averaging about 45 pages per semester), 100 by the final portfolio of all of the student’s work, and 100 by class participation. First-semester projects will address undergraduate life and the question, “How Would My Life Be Different and How Would It Be Similar if I Attended One of the Universities Whose Seals Appear on the West Wall of the Main Building?” (the oldest universities in the West: Bologna, Paris, Oxford, Salamanca, Cambridge, Heidelberg). Second semester projects will focus on place and can be combined into one sixteen-page essay. Informal writing consists primarily of self-reflection and reading journals. Class participation includes the art of listening as well as speaking in public. Students will receive exactly the grade recorded in the online gradebook, even if it is one point short of the next higher grade. 900 points are required for an A-; 800 for a B-; 700 for a C-; 600 for a D-.


In the first semester we will begin with the questions “Who am I?” and “What am I doing here?” We will read Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass; Hardy’s Jude the Obscure; and Beerbohm’s Zuleika Dobson as commentaries on undergraduate life, as well as selections from Newman and others on the purpose of university education. Then we will focus on responses to places, especially in nature, in selections from the Bible, Theocritus, Moschus, Virgil, Wordsworth, Lopez, Pater, Dickens, Taniguchi, Jones, Graves, Tennyson, Eiseley, Darwin, Oliphant, Barney, Berry, Lawrence, Harrigan, Arnold, Forster, Dobie, Ruskin, Hopkins, Pugin, and Hugo. In the second semester we will turn our attention to medieval and medievalist art, architecture, and literature, guided by some of the same authors and by Adams, Morris, the Rossettis, and others. The course will conclude with a focus on Gothic in Gawain and the Green Knight, Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, and Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. Students will do presentations on murals and paintings in the second semester.


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