The American Short Story
(English 374.1, Spring 2001)
This course will trace the
short story from its early nineteenth-century American creators to current
masters. We will discuss traditional literary elements such as character
development, point-of-view, tone, etc. We will also situate texts
in their historical context and ask questions regarding gender, race, class,
religion, & psychology. The course will have a technology component:
students will design web pages that will present background materials and
provide critical and theoretical analyses of texts. [No WWW experience
In addition to reading, you
will do a substantial amount of writing both in and out of class
to strengthen your critical thinking and writing skills. I will present
various writing strategies and skills throughout the semester and hope
that you will take the initiative to practice them in this and in
other classes. Assignments will increase in complexity. Each
assignment will build on existing and introduce new critical thinking skills
and writing strategies.
To make this course enjoyable
and thought provoking, we must all work together and diligently.
I will lecture briefly at times; however, we will spend class in discussion.
This course will demand your time and brain cells. I expect you to spend
at least three (3) hours preparing for each class [reading, THINKING, locating
patterns, formulating questions, writing]. Note: since we meet
only twice a week, I expect you to come to class having thought about the
material, with questions, and with ideas (everyone has ideas!). For the
shy in the group, get into the habit of offering at least one comment per
I expect you to take an active role in this class to help make it a valuable
learning experience for yourself, your peers, and for me.
Gain a fuller understanding
of the American short story and the society that influenced it. You will
be able to:
Sharpen your ability to derive
meaning from a text through close, critical analysis. You will be able
recognize major literary figures
and thoughtfully analyze their works
identify recurrent themes
understand major literary movements
identify the social, political,
and cultural undertones of the time
consider the purpose(s) of the
Increase your awareness of
the diverse community of readers and writers of literature. You will be
use appropriate critical vocabulary
(setting, theme, climax, ambiguity, narrative perspective)
annotate a text and suggest the
significance of important passages
identify patterns and details
that may uncover meaning
explore and speculate about textual
express well-reasoned opinions
about the quality of a work based on textual evidence
discuss how different critical
approaches (new critical, cultural, feminist, African-American and psychoanalytical)
expose added insight and complicate interpretations
Increase your awareness of
the link between literature and the human experiences. You will be able
discuss ways in which literature
can increase awareness of ourselves and others
discuss how literature increases
our knowledge of what it means to be human
Improve your ability to organize
and present your insights. You will notice an improvement in your ability
explore meaning / implications
as you write critically about a work
write an organized, thesis-driven
supply sufficient evidence for
a persuasive argument
improve general writing skills
(paragraphing to style)
adapt style and purpose to audience
learn correct MLA documentation
Please purchase the editions
I ordered from the campus bookstores. This saves SO much time when we work
on locating specific images & passages.
Charters, The American Short
Story and Its Writers
Alcott Short Stories
Copies of Reserve materials
printed copies of any materials
assigned on the web
an e-mail address
a Blackboard account
share your insights with your
groups and the class to develop individual, original interpretations as
well as to arrive at some general consensus about a work
learn to locate secondary materials
(book reviews, criticism, history, art, and audio-visuals) to reconstruct
the historical, political, and cultural forces which may have influenced
or shaped an author and his or her work
evaluate critical articles (a
critics argument, shortcomings, insight, oversight)
employ critical articles to support
your views, but also to explore overlooked ideas
Spend at least three (3) hours
preparing for each class by practicing the three Rs.
Read and re-read carefully.
Re-reading will increase your
comprehension, help you to see new and interesting ideas you missed during
the first reading, and facilitate paper-writing.
Circle & underline patterns
and important images, lines, scenes etc.
Take notes as you read.
Write a paragraph summarizing
the story or novel chapter's main ideas.
To pass, you must:
THINK about what your are reading.
What is going on? Why? How does
the author present the story? What is ambiguous in the story? Why?
Take a stand: do you agree or
disagree with the author's point?
How does this story apply to real
Formulate questions for discussion
submit all major writing assignments,
homework, quizzes etc.
demonstrate satisfactory attendance
participate during group work,
writing workshops, and class discussions.
The Class "Blackboard" Discussion
Sunday of each week, each student must post:
a 150-200 word (minimum) discussion
of an issue s/he seems important to the week's fiction. The submission
must be thoughtful and well written.
a 100-150 word (minimum) response
to another student's entry that acknowledge but also challenge the author's
submission. You cannot simply say things like: "That was a good idea."
register by using your z-id for BOTH the USER-ID and the PASSWORD.
You can then CHANGE the password, but do NOT change the user-id or they
(the people iwho run this thing) will delete all of your work and
then you will not receive credit from moi.
THE DISCUSSION FORUM, go to COMMUNICATION and then choose DISCUSSION FORUM.
Feel free to bookmark it on your own computer. However, you will
have to log-in each time.
The Class "Listserve"
We will use these to post announcements
and any other important information.
Everyone will receive these messages.
So, practice courtesy and respect.
You should not use this site to
complain or post private information designed for my eyes only. Email
Please use a word processor for
all drafts (YES, DRAFTS!) and final papers. You will discover that revising
drafts is much easier on a computer.
ALWAYS print a copy of a draft/paper
before you save or shut down your computer just in case your computer explodes,
your dog eats your disk, your hard drive bleeps everything you ever wrote,
or in case I misplace it (but that rarely happens). You don't want
to suffer the consequences if you have done the work.
You have three (3) misses.
EAch subsequent absence will decrease your FINAL grade by 1/3 a point.
For example: an A would translate into an A-, an A- would translate into
a B+. (Keep in mind that while I give +s and -s, the university does
not. Therefore if you earn an A- and I have to reduce your grade
to a B+ due to absences, the university records that as a B. Do you
I will add 10 points to your final
grade if you have perfect attendance.
Your group depends on you for
your participation and insight; therefore, attendance and promptness is
mandatory. Please arrive on time. If you arrive more than five
(5) minutes, I will mark you ABSENT.
Not coming to a required
Office Hour counts as an absence.
If you anticipate an absence,
please submit a letter (email is fine) at least 1 week in advance.
If you have one of the following
"excused" absences, you must submit the certified letter no later than
one week after the absence.
Top 10 excuses that are NOT
10. my sister/brother died
(you do not HAVE a sister/brother) [Someone actually used this excuse!]
9. I "broke up" with my significant
8. my alarm clock did not
7. infected, pierced body
6. the fire alarm went off,
5. erupting wisdom teeth
4. natural disasters
3. the flu, mono, a "cold,"
or a "stomach bug"
2. hospitalization of (grand)parents
[but please let me know]
1. death [but please let me
You must make-up all missed
work. Consult the syllabus and a classmate for missed assignments.
Blackboard, quizzes, etc.
By signing the "Course Pledge,"
you agree to abide by the Honor Code. Consult the University's policy,
especially section 3-3
"Personal Identification and Honesty" and the University's definition
Do not monopolize the discussion.
Self-monitor so the quieter students can share their thoughts.
To establish a safe environment,
any personal information, "stories," or anecdotes must remain
No "zaps" (put-downs that insult
or discourage anyone from participating)
Do not read the newspaper, your
Spanish notes etc. during our class.
Punctuality. "If you can't
be on time, come early."
Please be warned, I have "caught"
someone plagiarizing in every class I have taught (even a fifth grader).
I am really good at spotting it. As you know, plagiarism means
intentionally using another person's words or ideas and claiming them as
yours. DON'T do it! If you are confused about how to document or if
you have parents "breathing down your neck" to get good grades, see me
first. If I suspect plagiarism, I will confirm it and then report you to
the Honor Court. You will fail the course and/or be expelled from the university.
Downloading papers from the
WWW, library databases, or even a friend's personal computer violates the
Honor Code. As a former student can confirm, the Honor Court will prosecute
I encourage you to utilize
the Writing Center as a resource whenever you would like more assistance
(from brainstorming to finished product) with your projects. The tutors
will send me a report of your attendance.
Please see a Writing Tutor
time you receive LESS than a "B." You must go even if I do not
remind you. All visits count as "effort" in your participation grade.
To schedule an appointment,
please check the website.
I want you to succeed
in this class.
Every professor will expect
you to work hard in his or her course. I expect you to work on this
class diligently for at least 1 1/2 hours per day (or at least 9 hours
per week). Please do not say, "This class takes all my time."
Such a comment suggests poor study habits and time management. Don't
complain. Problem solve.
Please do not be shy or embarrassed
to ask for help! I view requests for assistance as a strength, NOT
If you have any disability
that may impact your work, please contact me so that I may accommodate
you. Whatever you tell me will remain confidential. You can
also talk to a resource person at CARR (753-1303).
If you run into trouble, please
talk to me about it or seek help from the free campus resources:
Program (Free tutoring!)
& Study Skills
Writing Center (More free tutoring!)
& Psychological Services
(Center for Access-Ability Resources)
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© 2001 Deborah