This course is a survey of the traditional and contemporary short story in English, with a few stories in translation as well. We will begin with a close look at Poe,Hawthorne and Melville, who helped create the American short story. We will read selections from contemporary literary theory and apply it to several stories, both older and more contemporary. A session will be devoted to structure, for which we will read both traditional and experimental pieces. We will compare two masters, Chekhov and his disciple, Raymond Carver, to discuss the issues of influence and originality. Some time will be given to the relationship of story to film, and we will watch at least one film version of a story we have read. We will then begin looking at stories thematically, grouped around such issues as initiation, love, marriage, and the confrontation with death.
Each session, you will be responsible for reading between 75 and 100 pages of material. Because this class is also writing-intensive, you will be asked to do brief pieces for each session, some informal writing in class, and a take-home final. We will give significant attention to the process of writing and revision.