The short story is the most flexible of genres, including within its generous boundaries tales that barely exceed a paragraph, and those that read like novels. In this course, we’ll read mostly American and British short stories, reading about love and murder, marriage, war, poison, tenderness, voyages, hermits, food, starvation and cars.
We’ll read a few stories from an anthology, but will concentrate our attention on collections by single authors. We’ll look at two of the genre’s fathers, Poe and Hawthorne, then at Chekhov and one of his literary daughters, Alice Munro. We’ll read Joyce’s Dubliners and a collection by one of his heirs, William Trevor. We’ll also read Junot Diaz’s Drown, and Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies.
Our focus will be on the structure of the story, and how various frames affect the material inside. Some of the stories will be linear and traditional: some will be more experimental. You’ll become much more skilled at reading fiction of any length, and at responding to the varied shapes that stories assume.
The writing assignments will include very short response papers for each class and a longer final paper, developed in stages. We will discuss various ways of finding ideas, and ways of revising a paper once it is drafted.
This course counts as an Arts and Letters course in the College’s General Education requirement.