Summer—A term; 2017
Dr. Laurie George
Course Definition & Goals
“Novel, a, short story padded.”
--Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary, 1911
“Who reads short stories? one is asked, and I like to think that they are read by men and women in the dentist’s office, waiting to be called to the chair. They are read on transcontinental plane trips instead of watching a banal and vulgar film spin out the time between our casts; they are read by discerning and well-informed men and women who seem to feel that narrative fiction can contribute to our understanding of one another and the sometimes bewildering world around us.”
--John Cheever, “Why I Write Short Stories,” 1978
This class in fiction celebrates the shorter rather than the longer fictional narrative—the reading, writing, and interpretive critique of it, though some of our readings will be novellas, short novels. Ambrose Bierce will be one of the “unpadded” writers whose fiction we read with the above quotations in mind; and we will be focusing mostly on contemporary fictions, traditional as well as innovative themes and styles that sometimes shock reading publics.
Primary goals of the course include: increasing your reading enjoyment of the short fiction by sophisticating your reading practices and your awareness of how you interpret and assess fiction; exposing you to a variety of fictional authors, genres, styles, and literary movements; enhancing your critical abilities, both orally and in writing, to analyze, interpret and evaluate responses to stories.
Course writing includes much class discussion and textual/contextual analysis, as well as short, analytical essays and identification/competence using literary fictional vocabulary.
I will be distributing the full syllabus in print on the first day of the quarter. We'll be reading some fiction from an anthology available soon at UW Bookstore, and as much as possible, I will send you other fictions online to save your book budgets.