ENG1980-01.Topics: Short Story Survey.J17.Holcombe,Heather

Faculty Name

Heather Holcombe

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Course Number


Course Section


Course Title

Topics: Short Story Survey

Academic Term and Year

Winter 2017



Hamline Plan Letter


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Course Description

This course surveys the evolution of the American Short Story from 1846 to the more recent past. We will assume that literature is intimately tied to everyday life, interpreting the ways in which writers and readers used the short story to address individual and social conflicts created by war, removal, nationalism, immigration, migration, racism, sexism, psychosis, the growth of industrialism and the modern city, modern capitalism and mass media. The course will locate American literature texts within multiple conversations about the world, its challenges, and its beauty. These texts will form a chorus of competing voices, all demanding their piece of the “American pie” or inviting a critique of how it is divided. We will assume literature is always engaged in questions of power, authority, and the unknown. We will also assume literary movements strike and address these questions—telling readers how to view the world’s ideas, social conditions and social positions. We will focus much of our attention exploring these questions and answers. Along the way, we will explore the emergence, evolution and/or decline of distinct American literary movements—thinking about where realism and regionalism intersect, how feminism and modernism overlap, how postmodernism revises modernism. We will take up both classic and less popular texts by Davis, Chopin, Butler and Cisneros. Along the way, we will not lose sight of the beauty of America’s cultural and literary fabric—taking time to enjoy Jewett’s representation of “local color” and allow ourselves to be swept away by one of O’Connor’s provocative and controversial fictional worlds. We will read with breadth and depth, traveling through multiple literary movements, spending a considerable amount of time in each place with a few authors. We will even try our hands at writing our own short stories, drawing insight from the experts and our own analysis to make and execute against creative choices. While the course is conscious of chronology, it is theme-driven. As such, we will privilege theme over time—placing disparate voices, texts and social/historical contexts in dialogue over common issues.

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