ENGL 284 B: Beginning Short Story Writing

Spring 2022
TTh 1:30pm - 2:50pm / * *
Section Type:
Syllabus Description (from Canvas):

284/Introduction to Prose.

  1. T and Th, 1:30-2:50: to be determined: whether course is conducted in person or via Zoom.

We are mortal beings. There is as yet no evidence of god. We live in a hyperdigital culture. Art is related to the body and to the culture. Art should reflect these things. Brevity rules.

A sustained argument for the excitement and urgency of brevity; a rally for compression, concision, and velocity; and a meditation on the brevity of human existence.

Participation counts; it will affect your grade. However, please don’t comment just to comment. Try to contribute judiciously, effectively, thoughtfully, and generously.

dshields@davidshields.com; www.davidshields.com

Office hours: by appointment; set up via email or by texting me. We can talk by phone or via Zoom.

Life Is Short—Art Is Shorter: In Praise of Brevity (edited by Shields and Cooperman): purchase from UBS or online.

Students will read the book, do the prompts suggested by the book. We’ll do as many of them as we can. Read the whole book on your own, page by page, including the commentaries by Elizabeth Cooperman and me (we are the book’s co-editors). In class, students and I will discuss individual chapters as we have time. Crucial that you read the book on your own, chapter by chapter as we go and/or all the way through.

In class, students will read aloud their work and critique one another’s work. That is the core focus of the course.

Students will learn the virtue of brevity, the key principles of literary composition in general (for novels, short stories, essays, etc.), and the many gestures available to the contemporary writer.

This is not a course in fiction or nonfiction. This is a course in prose composition. In how to write. You can write whatever you want:  prose-poem, essay, fiction, hybrid work.

Questions? Concerns? Requests? Suggestions?

March 29. Intro to course.

March 31. Discuss Introduction to book.

April 5. Object assignment.

April 7. Same.

April 12. Image Becomes Metaphor assignment.

April 14. Same.

April 19. Lovers’ Quarrel/Happiness assignment.

April 21. Same.

April 26. Decades assignment.

April 28. Same.

May 3. Collage assignment.

May 5. Same.

May 10. Trick Story assignment.

May 12. Same.

May 17. Criticism as Autobiography.

May 19. Same.

May 24. Guilty elegy.

May 26. Same.

May 31. Parable.

June 2. Same.

June 10. End of exam week: final portfolios.

Catalog Description:
Introduction to the theory and practice of writing the short story.
GE Requirements Met:
Arts and Humanities (A&H)
Last updated:
June 13, 2024 - 3:37 pm