English 156 - Summer Sessions I, 2017

The Short Story

Class Information

Instructor: Anderson, Katherine
CRN: 51438
Time: MTW 10:00-11:40
Location: 1060 Bainer


    English 156 introduces students to the short story as a genre. We’ll read a variety of texts written by North American and European authors, exploring the short story’s historical development, techniques, and formal character as a literary form. Just what is the short story? A story that is short? How short? How does it differ from the novella and the novel? According to Edgar Allan Poe, the short story’s first theorist, the short story is the highest form of prose primarily because of its length: since the short story can be read in one sitting, it places the “soul of the reader” in the writer’s complete control without fear of “external or extrinsic influences” or “weariness or interruption.” In this class, we’ll think about literary concerns, like those Poe raises, alongside cultural and historical ones, tracing the evolutions and innovations of the short story since the nineteenth century.

    Course Objectives:

    By the end of the course, students should be able to:

    1) Close read (analyze) a text: recognize, understand, and explain the significance of textual details– for example, word choice, imagery, form, and connotation.
    2) Recognize and analyze the elements of fiction, including plot, character, setting, theme, style, voice, point of view, symbolism and allegory.
    3) Draw on relevant cultural and historical information to analyze and interpret a literary text.
    4) Demonstrate familiarity with literary works representing different cultures, approaches, and perspectives.
    5) Research and write focused, convincing analytical essays in clear, grammatical prose.
    6) Think critically and independently, employing logic, interpretive skills, and analytical strategies.
    7) Participate in discussions by listening to others’ perspectives, asking productive questions, and articulating original ideas.

    This course fulfills UCD topical breath and core literacy requirements AH (Arts and Hum) and WE (Writing Exp).
    Warning: This course incorporates mature themes. From time to time, the stories we read will include representations of graphic violence or sexuality. Some of these texts may be emotionally troubling. Please be certain you are willing and able to discuss this kind of material in a mature and respectful way.


    Midterm Paper (4-5 double-spaced pages)
    For your first paper, you will choose one of the stories we’ve read in class and provide an in-depth analysis of it, constructing an argument about its significant details and theme(s). While you may build upon classroom discussion if you like, you should go beyond what has already been said in developing your argument.

    Final Paper (5-6 double-spaced pages)
    Your final comparative essay will allow you to expand upon a topic of your choosing in relation to two of our texts that particularly interested you. I want this paper to represent your genuine interests, so any topic that has come up in our class discussions – or even one that hasn’t been covered in depth but is related to our class and/or present in the texts – is fair game. You will develop an interpretive argument about the thematic links and distinctions between your chosen two texts, supporting it with close reading.

    Final Exam (1 ½-2 double-spaced pages)
    The final exam will be take-home, and will likely require you to identify and write a short analysis for 1 of 3 possible passages taken from class readings (approximately 1 page per analysis, for a total of 2 pages). It will be due to your Dropbox folder on Smartsite by the final exam time set by the university.

    Grade Break Down
    Participation, In-Class Work, Reading Responses, Quizzes, etc. 200 pts (20%)
    Midterm Paper (4-5 pages) 250 pts (25%)
    Final Paper (5-6 pages) 300 pts (30%)
    Final Exam 250 pts (25%)

    Total 1,000 pts


    The Story and its Writer: An Introduction to Short Fiction (9th edition), Anne Charters