Spring 2011 - Graduate Course Descriptions
Description of Course:
A genre apparently as easy to approach as the short story would seem to require no “theory.” In fact, however, this relatively new art form, dating from the 19th century, has attracted a growing body of theoretical studies. For example, the recent popularity of the very short story—aka “flash fiction” or microfiction—raises questions about the boundaries and essential elements of the genre. Can a story of 250 words really be considered in the same category as one of 12,000 words?
This course will act as a kind of theoretical laboratory for the instructor’s textbook-in-progress. Examining theories and standard definitions of components as a starting point, we shall strive to rethink and redefine the story’s basic elements. We shall also review the story’s historical development and sub-genres from Poe and Tolstoy, through Chekhov, Joyce, Hemingway, and Updike, to minimalists like Carver and Beattie, and on to the writers of microfiction.
Pickering, Fiction 100 (including “Reader’s Guide to the Short Story”)
Charles May, ed., The New Short Story Theories (Ohio Univ. Press)
Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:
Students will give an oral report on a particular short story theory, illustrated by single story. They will also write a 15 pp. research paper on a short story theory. Class participation is important.