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Fall 2017
Sep 20, 2017
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ENGL 230 - The Short Story in the US
The Short Story in the US

“When well told, a story captured the subtle movement of change. If a novel was a map of a country, a story was the bright silver pin that marked the crossroads.” ~Ann Patchett                                                                     
 
This course will examine the genre of the short story, and introduce you to the American short story by way of some of the best-known authors of the last century and a half. With its vocation for liminal and experimental space(s), density and brevity, the short story has a privileged place in American literature.  As we read, we will trace some of the leading critical debates around the emergence and evolution of the genre and develop theories of our own concerning traditional and narrative techniques, as well as the ability to redefine national literary and local boundaries. As such, we will study some renowned prototypes of the genre, but also hybrid forms, such as the short story cycle, and stories of the borderlands or of crossings with other arts, in a range of styles from realism and naturalism to allegory and to impressionism. Considering the experience of the margins, we will also assess the short story contribution to genre fiction like sci-fi, adventure and detective/crime narratives.
 
Through careful close reading, followed by engaged discussion and focused writing activities, we will analyze and practice various ways of constructing authorial point of view, character and reader alignment, deferral of referential clues, composition of setting, relation of literary devices with intended effect and reader’s response. 
 
Texts will include: 
- 19th century classics from Edgar Allan Poe, Hawthorne, Melville, Twain, Kate Chopin.
- Transitional stories of modern settlement/civilization and the frontier by Jack London and Edith Wharton; 
- Masterpieces by Hemingway, Saul Bellow, Flannery O’Connor, James Baldwin; 
- Short-story cycle(s) by Sherwood Anderson and Sandra Cisneros;
- Postmodern experiments by Donald Barthelme, Raymond Carver and A. M. Homes;
- Diasporic short stories — Hispanic and Portuguese-American — by Junot Diaz and Katherine Vaz;
- Some oddities, some surprises, your suggestions.
 
We will build together a class blog, and students will be required to do one post and a number of comments. Other assignments include reviews and creative responses to composition with oral presentations in class, as well as one research paper or lesson plan. Attendance and participation in class are strongly valued, as well as enthusiasm for in-class writing and expressive reading exercises.

3.000 Credit hours
3.000 Lecture hours
0.000 Lab hours

Levels: Undergraduate
Schedule Types: Lecture

English Department

Course Attributes:
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