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Reading and Writing the Contemporary Short Story

ENGL 403.640
W 6:30-9:10

This class is designed for those with an interest in the varieties of short fiction written since 1975 or so. We'll read stories with an eye toward understanding their structure and technique, then adapt what we learn for our own work. The writers we will read represent two extremes of contemporary fiction. We will begin with the traditional single-voiced linear narrative, often representing individual and family experience. We will then explore stories that stretch or ignore traditional boundaries of time, plot, narration and subject matter. This is not a survey of contemporary short fiction. We will read relatively few stories, but we will read them intensely, mining them for ideas and techniques that will stretch the limits of our own writing.

Writers may include John Edgar Wideman, Grace Paley, Peter Taylor, William Trevor, Rick Moody and Alice Munro. Writing assignments will include several brief critical papers for class discussion, several exercises in fiction and two finished short stories. Please feel free to email me with questions: