This course will consider the birth and growth of the American short story from its self-conscious beginnings in the work of Poe to several contemporary masters. We will look carefully at structure, and at the formal principles voiced by the writers set against the formal realities of the texts. We will also examine the concerns and obsessions that these writers share, including the fantastic, the grotesque, the representation of violence in narrative prose, and the presentations of cultures and peoples not usually included in canonical fiction. Texts will include volumes or groups of stories by Poe, Hawthorne, Henry James, Edith Wharton, Flannery O'Connor, Alice Munro, John Edgar Wideman and Cynthia Ozick. The course will be structured to encourage discussion. The requirements include regular attendance and participation, weekly short papers and a take-home final.