ENGLISH 283: Short Fiction
“…however large or small the story—the human impulse is to
make sense of each moment by referring it to a larger narrative. We need to live in a world not of our own
Place: Chambers 316; Time: MWF Office: 310B Chambers; Office Hours: F and TWR ; also by appt.
Phone #: 2237; e-mail: zokuzmanovich
Required Texts: Gioia and Gwynn, The Longman Anthology of Short Fiction.
Recommended Texts: John Gardner, The Art of Fiction; Rust Hills, Writing in General and the Short Story in Particular.
Procedure: Initially two thirds lecture (historical, thematic, and theoretical), one third informed discussion of closely related and closely read stories. Then one fourth lecture, three fourths student-led and even more informed discussion. If this is your first literature class, there is a brief but very useful glossary of literary terms at the end of your book.
Class Requirements: One mid-term exam (15%), one short paper (15%), one long researched paper (25%), self-scheduled final exam or a fiction portfolio (three short stories) (30%), discussion (15%). Should you choose the portfolio option over the final exam one, prepare your portfolio as if you were submitting it for publication (see Writer’s Market or Literary Marketplace, or any of the websites devoted to this topic). The stories you submit should have been written during this semester and submitted for grade only for in this class. Please do not assume that writing a series of short stories is an easy task and thus to be preferred over the final exam; as an editor of a journal, I try to uphold fairly high standards of literary competence and originality. I will grade these stories and comment on them in person; I will not correct, edit, or annotate them.
Discussions: Each student will lead one class discussion.
Papers: All topics must be approved in advance.
Class conferences: Either one of us may request a conference during my office hours or at a mutually convenient time.
(some are not in our Library, and some have slightly different call numbers):
Walter. The Short Story in English.
Hampl, Patricia. ed. The Houghton Mifflin Anthology of Short Fiction.
Clare. ed. Re-reading the Short Story.
Dominic. The Modernist Short Story: A Study in Theory and Practice.
Douglas A. Studies in Short Fiction. 2d ed.
Hutcheon, L. A Poetics of Post
Hutcheon, L. Narcissistic Narrative: The Metafictional Paradox.
and Jo Ellyn Clarey. Eds. Short
Story Theory at the Crossroads.
Susan Garland. The Short Story Cycle: A Genre Companion and Reference Guide.
May, Charles E. Short Story Theories.
Frank. The Lonely Voice: A Study of the Short Story.
O'Faolain, Sean. The Short Story.
Ian. The Short Story.
Valerie. The Short Story: A Critical Introduction.
Wilfred. The Short Story: An Introduction. 2nd ed.
Tallack, Douglas. The Nineteenth-century American
Short Story: Language, Form, and Ideology.
Thomas A. Gullison, "The Short Story: Revision and Renewal," Studies in Short Fiction (Summer 1982): 221-230. S809.31 8
Vannatta, Dennis. ed. The
English Short Story: A Critical History.
Noelle. ed. Reference Guide to Short Fiction.
Gordon. ed. The American Short Story, 1945-1980: a
A Few Words on Teaching Literature
This is the kind of answer I give to myself when I ask myself why I teach literature: If language is a window into other minds, then literature is a peculiar kind of a structure preserving and creating both the windows and the views those windows grant. As a unique repository of a culture's riches, literature provides one of the few imaginary spaces where minds can really meet. Read properly, the passions and preoccupations of other minds immerse us in diverse views of human experience while helping to frame our unique knowledge of ourselves. But such knowledge arrives only through the discipline we must impose on our thoughts and feelings in order for them to be expressed precisely and thus made present to others. Expressing ourselves well means making it possible for our audience to sense in our every sentence both the resonances of our race, gender, region, class, religion, ethnicity, and political ideology as well as the distinctive independence of our individual spirit's synthesis of, and reaction to those cultural forces. Keep reminding yourself that through your every word and image you not merely express but produce what you think. And then, if such reminders do not silence you, treat your audience to the full complexity of your historical perspective, the breadth of you cultural literacy, the sharpness of your interpretive acumen, the richness of your understanding of the imaginative process, and thus the lucid pleasure inherent in any task done precisely and passionately. Yes, it's scary, but I can't imagine doing anything else with as much commitment.
Plagiary occurs whenever you present another writer’s work in such a way as to give your reader reason to think it to be your own. Plagiarism is a form of academic fraud, and it always leads to a failing grade for the plagiarized work, but may, depending on Honor Council decisions, also result in a loss of credit for the course, for the semester, temporary suspension from the College, etc.
The most common types of plagiarism are:
1. “Let Mikey Do It!” This is the grossest form of plagiarism since it includes the use of a paper purchased from a paper mill, or a work prepared by any person other than the individual claiming to be the author such as a paper stolen from another student or acquired from the fraternity or eating house archives. (I usually ask for temporary suspension from the College.)
2. “The Double-Dip.” Self-plagiarism occurs when you submit work which is the same or substantially the same as work for which you have already received academic credit here or elsewhere. (I usually ask for loss of credit for the class.)
3. “Gee, I wish I had written that! Wait a minute; I just did!” Incorporating into your own sentences the happily phrased words written or said by another but failing to put the quotation marks around those “happy” words and thus avoiding having to credit your source. (I usually fail the paper, but will fail the student for the class if I receive no cooperation in ascertaining the degree of infraction. The Honor Council may and usually does add its own penalties.)
The College values and rewards original thought, but it also values and rewards proper research which requires the correct crediting of authorities from whom you derive your phrasing, facts, and opinions.
Every discipline within the curriculum requires documentation, but correct method of attribution varies from discipline to discipline. I require the latest MLA style (usually off the Web: this year it’s http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~expos/sources/#textboxes)
If you are ever in any doubt about what to document, please ask me, but until you do, surprise the devil and do the right thing: document absolutely everything.
A Few Words on Grading
Your final grade will never be lower than the arithmetical average of your in-course grades; it may be higher if your writing and discussing shows notable improvement. Although all grading is to some degree subjective, I want to clue you in on what my particular criteria are. I am convinced that written assignments help you to develop and clarify your understanding of a text, thus giving you a firmer grasp of it than reading, lecture, or discussion alone can provide. What I look for in your writing are the following elements: (words like sense and feeling hint at the subjectivity; remember, however, that I am a trained reader and that these criteria are constants for everyone in this class).
-a sense that you have understood and considered all aspects of the assignment and have something interesting to say in response to it (rather than answering the obvious questions or latching on to something already trodden over in lecture and discussion)
-depth of understanding of the work under discussion (considering evidence which might be interpreted quite differently from the way you read it, anticipating those objections and fending them off rather than conveniently forgetting about them; appropriate details brought forth to convince me of your contention; citations, always with page numbers, thoroughly interpreted and commented upon)
-a feeling (very early in your response to the assignment) of some insightful point being made and of the method you plan to use in demonstrating that point (the more I have to guess what it is you are getting at, the more you'll have to wonder about your grade; mystery has a better place on late-night television)
-a sense that you have profited from doing the assignment itself, a new insight even, usually evident in a conclusion which does not merely summarize but speculates, conjectures, surmises, theorizes, meditates, ponders, reflects, ruminates (yes, I use a thesaurus and so should you) or gives other indication of an ongoing engagement with the text at hand
-rhetorical awareness: when you write for me, you write for an interested and sympathetic but also skeptical reader. To convince me that you are making the best possible case for your reading, assume an authoritative interested tone, achieved (a) through precise propositions which are qualified where necessary and (b) through a consideration of other points of view; carefully selected and contextualized citations; coherent exposition and sufficient development of your insight gained by clear transitions between sentences and paragraphs; fair use of outside materials in observance of the honor code.
NB: I am distressed and irritated by carelessness in handling of logic, grammar, and textual evidence, and, as a result, every time I have to correct something, your grade is affected accordingly. For me, teaching provides a type of satisfaction no other activity can provide, so I care about all aspects of it, including your writing. I hope you will care about it as much as I do. I applaud good intentions, encourage aspiration, and value hard work, but I reward only achievement.
LETTERS AND NUMBERS: Letter grades will be converted to numerical ones according to the following scale:
A = 95; A- = 92; B+ = 88; B = 85; B- = 82; C+ =
78; C = 75; C- = 72; D+ = 68; D = 65.
Calendar: There are many ways to arrange the stories in this text—thematic, generic, formal, etc. Several alternative arrangements and groupings are in your book on pages 1905-1910. I have chosen the roughly chronological method, but within each pairing of stories there are plenty of resonances which should give us the opportunity to discuss themes, techniques, critical approaches, influences.
August 26: Introduction to the course; overview of terms, ideas, concepts, cycles, and history
Kincaid, “Girl”; Enrique Anderson Imbert, “Taboo, Amy Hempel, “Housewife”
Poe, “The Imp of the Perverse” (WEB http://www.geocities.com/short_stories_page/poeimp.html); “The Tell-tale Heart”
Gogol, “The Overcoat”; Melville, “Bartelby” (WEB http://www.cwrl.utexas.edu/~daniel/amlit/bartleby/bartleby.html ) or (TBA)
Melville, “Benito Cereno”; Read also 1768-1775
Harte, “The Outcasts of Poker
Flat”; Twain, “The Jumping Frog of
Crane, “The Bride comes to Yellow Sky”; Chopin, “The Story of an Hour”
“A Simple Heart”; Chekhov,
“An Upheaval”; see also 423-425 and 679-80.
Chekhov, “Misery”; “The Lady with the Pet Dog”; Read also 1800-1802.
O’Henry, “The Last Leaf”; Joyce, “Eveline”; Read also 950-52: Epiphanies and 1804-1807.
Henry James, “Daisy Miller” or “The Real Thing” or “The Turn of the Screw”
It’s all muddled middles: Modernist Angst and Anomie
Hemingway, “Hills Like White Elephants” (WEB http://bama.ua.edu/~clifford/lit/hills.htm ) “A Very Short Story”(WEB http://www.mala.bc.ca/~lanes/english/hemngway/vershort.htm ); See also 829-830: One True Sentence
D.H. Lawrence, “The Horse Dealer’s Daughter”; Willa Cather, “Paul’s Case”; See also 321-22: Art as the Process of Simplification
Mansfield, “Miss Brill,” “Bliss”
Roth, “Conversion of the Jews”; Malamud, “Angel Levine”
Singer; “Gimpel the Fool” and 1533-35; Cheever, “The Swimmer”
October 11: Midterm Exam
Post-Modernism: Hanging Out with Kafka’s Offspring
Kafka, “Before the Law,” “A Hunger Artist”/”Metamorphosis”/”A Little Woman”
October 18/ 21:
O’Connor, “Good Country People,” “A Good Man is Hard to Find”; Read also 1410-13; 1788-90; 1825-29.
Welty, “Petrified Man,” “Why I Live at the P.O.” and 1699-1701
Garcia Marquez, ”A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings”; Borges, “The Gospel According to Mark”; Read also 188-90: Literature as Experience and 1807-09
Disch, “The Man who Read a Book”; Clarke, “The Nine Billion Names of God”
Bradbury, “The Veldt”; Atwood, “Rape Fantasies”
Dubus, “A Father’s Story”; Dinesen, “Sorrow-Acre”
Erdrich, “The Red Convertible”; Cisneros, “Barbie-Q”;
Gilb, “Look on the Bright Side”;
Carver, “A Small Good Thing”;
November 27: Thanksgiving Break
November 29: Thanksgiving Break
Nabokov, “Cloud, Castle,
December 13: Exams Begin
Untitled (by Anonymous)
stood on the high cliff.
"Come to the edge," he said."We're comfortable back here," they said.
“Come to the edge,” he said. “We’re too busy,” they said.
“Come to the edge,” he said.“It’s too high,” they said.
“Come to the edge,” he said.“We’re afraid,” they said.
“Come to the edge,” he said. “We’ll fall,” they said.
“Come to the edge,” he said.
And they did.
And he pushed them.
And they flew.
Taboo (by Enrique Anderson Imbert)
His guardian angel whispered to Fabian, behind his shoulder:
“Careful, Fabian! It is decreed that you
will die the minute you pronounce the word doyen.
”Doyen?” asks Fabian intrigued.
And he dies.
Housewife (by Amy Hempel)
She would always sleep with her husband and with another man in the course of the same day, and then the rest of the day, for whatever was left to her of that day, she would exploit by incanting, "French film, French film."