Fall 2015 - Undergraduate Course Descriptions
Description of Course:
What is a masterpiece? How have others answered this question? How do we? Through this course, we aim to answer these questions by examining the concept of canonization and the basics of literature; how we as individuals have answered this question previously through our literary choices--low brow and high brow, required and self-directed; and how we should begin to answer this question in the future about literature and other forms of artistic expression. We focus on the genre of the short story and read works by well-known authors, including William Faulkner, Alice Munro, Anton Chekov, and Flannery O'Connor, and to lesser known ones. The course uses short stories as a means of accessing a wide range of works by men and women of different races, religions, and regions with an emphasis on American and British literature from the 1830s to the present.
In short, we read the canon of the nineteenth and twentieth century short story while asking why these stories and authors receive the label of "masterpiece" and make the anthology while others might not. We ask how and why the culture or literary establishment has defined these works as great as well as what these works reveal about the author's cultural values as well as current readers' ideals and priorities. To do so, we practice setting literature within its historical, cultural, and literary context. To complement this, we read outside of the typical anthology and discuss parable, fairy tale, romance, magazine stories, science fiction, and mystery. This helps us to focus on how we define or create a concept of literary value and a "good" short story. We also consider the future of the short story by reading micro-fiction. However, the primary emphasis is an introduction to a wide range of authors and their various styles in hopes of demonstrating the varied definition of masterpiece.
The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction, 8th edition. Eds. Richard Baush and R.V. Cassill. New York: Norton, 2015. Print. ISBN 978-0-393-93775-6.
Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:
5% presentation, 10 minutes on an author and a work (50 points)
20% reading response posts, 10 total (200 points)
10% course articipation (100 points)
50% reading response papers and/or projects, 5 total (400 points)
20% final creative project or research paper (200 points)
5% presentation on final creative project or research paper (50 points)