This course will consider the birth and growth of the short story in English 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 concerns or obsessions shared by these writers including the fantastic, the grotesque, the use of violence in narrative prose and the presentation of cultures and peoples not historically included in canonical fiction. Texts will include volumes or groups of stories by Poe, Melville, Henry James, Edith Wharton, Flannery O'Connor, Alice Munro, Nedine Gordimer and others. The course will be structured to encourage discussion. the requirements include weekly short papers for discussion and a take-home final.