In this course we will study and enjoy one of the most enduring literary forms to have emerged in the United States from the middle of the nineteenth century to the present day. From Washington Irving and Edgar Allan Poe, to Raymond Carver and Annie Prouxl, the short story has provided many different kinds of American writers with a fertile ground for exploring the unconscious motivations of human behavior, issues of domesticity and the role of gender, the tensions between individuality and social conformity, as well as race relations, sexuality, and the meaning of identity. We will ask what makes the genre of short fiction so amenable to such topics, which will lead us to consider the technical aspects of plot development, point of view, tone, character, and symbolism. We will follow developments in the genre, taking a look at what authors say about their craft, and reading a few novellas and unique variations on the short story form. Authors we may consider, in addition to those mentioned, include: Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Henry James, Flannery O'Connor, Ethan Canin, David Sedaris, John Cheever, and several others. Three papers of 7 pages, with a final project or exam, and a mid-term.