American Literary Studies - 3rd year

Will introduce students to the American short story. Students will become familiar with a broad range of both major and minor American authors. Students will further learn about short fiction as a genre and the criteria of its form.


By the end of the course, the student will be able to:

1. Identify major authors and important stores in American literature;

2. Read texts of varying difficulty to identify themes, metaphors, symbols and a wide variety of other literary devices;

3. Understand dramatic structure, characterization, plot and narration;

4. Connect different texts both to one another and the historical contexts in which they appear;

5. Evaluate the contribution of different texts and authors to American literary tradition;

6. Evaluate texts both from the orthodox canon and from previously marginalized voices including women and minorities;

7. Employ a basic literary/critical vocabulary in the discussion of stories;

8. Engage with issues, themes and characters;

9. Identify the criteria specific to the genre of short fiction;

10. Respond to texts on emotional, intellectual and aesthetic levels.


Course topics will include the following:

1. Literary Devices

a. metaphor, simile, personification
b. symbolism
c. foreshadowing
d. tone, style and voice

2. Short Fiction

a. setting
b. narration
c. point of view
d. theme
e. characterization
f. dialog
g. plot
h. chronology
i. novel/short story
j. conflict
k. dramatic structure (rising action, crisis, falling action)
l. story types (fable, initiation, myth, realism, parable, etc.)

3. Major American Periods/Writers

The course may include but is not limited to works by the following authors:

Faulkner, Hemingway, Poe, Updike, James Baldwin, Cheever, Alice Walker, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Kate Chopin, Jack London, Amy Tan, Tim O’Brien, Stephen Crane, Raymond Carver, Steinbeck, Shirley Jackson, Ray Bradbury, Ursual K. LeGuin, Flannery O’Connor, Jamaica Kincaid, Ambrose Bierce, Sandra Cisneros, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Philip Roth, Stephen King, Willa Cather, Eudora Welty, Grace Paley, Sherwood Anderson, Mark Twain, Richard Wright, and many others.

Method of Instruction:

1. Lecture

2. seminar/discussion

3. film adaptations/documentaries

Types of Assignments:

1. Short papers

2. Original short story

3. Mid-term examination

4. Final examination

5. Quizzes

Sample Text:

1. Kennedy, X. J. and Gioia, Dana. An Introduction to Short Fiction. New York: Harper Collins, 1995.