1980 Metcalf Cup & Prize
William C. Carroll, CLA
Professor William C. Carroll has the high privilege and great responsibility among those who teach Shakespeare to the students of Boston University. In his eight years of teaching here he has become known for his extraordinary ability to lead students into the living center of his plays. Whether introducing undergraduates to the pleasures of the language and the complexities of dramatic form or guiding graduate students in critical method and into the best literature on Shakespeare, he has been consistently successful in demonstrating his mastery of the art of teaching.
On non-Shakespearean texts as well, such as the fiction of Nabokov, Dickens, and Stendhal—wherever humane insight has been manifested in a great style—Professor Carroll teaches with assurance, and in a style that is itself both natural and elegant, both lucid and subtle. He leads his class in a collective exposition of the essentials of a work, moving from its historical and social milieu into the artistry that distinguishes true works of art: their form, their sounds, their rhythms and textures.
Professor Carroll successfully engages every student in discussion which convert something that was obscure into something not only understood, but loved. Seeming contradictions and irrelevancies turn into parallels and correspondences as a host of unrelated parts fall into place to create a new logic and to reveal the total design. Such memorable teaching, which occurs also in conversations in his office and through the detailed written commentary on student papers for which Professor Carroll has become noted, has placed him in constant demand as a director of honor theses. Uncompromising in his expectations of his students as they confront the highest standard of literature in our language, he is unfailing in his willingness to help them meet the challenge.