The American Short Story
(English 374.1, Spring 2001)

Course Goals
Required Texts
Course Requirements
Class Etiquette
Academic Integrity
Writing Tutors
Final Words

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 is necessary.]

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 class.  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.

Course Goals
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 to: Increase your awareness of the diverse community of readers and writers of literature. You will be able to: Increase your awareness of the link between literature and the human experiences. You will be able to:
  • 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 to:
  • explore meaning / implications as you write critically about a work
  • write an organized, thesis-driven argument
  • supply sufficient evidence for a persuasive argument
  • improve general writing skills (paragraphing to style)
  • adapt style and purpose to audience
  • learn correct MLA documentation
  • Required Texts: 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
  • Course Requirements: Computers Attendance Policy:
  • 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 want that?)
  • I will add 10 points to your final participation 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.
  • Grades:  
  • Paper 1
  • 15%
  • Paper 2
  • 20%
  • Paper 3
  • 25%
  • Final
  • 20%
  • Participation
  • 10 %
  • Blackboard, quizzes, etc.
  • 10%
  • Class Etiquette: Academic Integrity: 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 of plagiarism.

    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 you.
    Writing Tutors: 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 each 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.

    Final Words 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 a weakness.

    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:

  • ACCESS Program (Free tutoring!)
  • Learning & Study Skills
  • The Writing Center (More free tutoring!)
  • ESL Center
  • On-Line Writing Resources
  • Counseling & Psychological Services
  • CARR (Center for Access-Ability Resources)
  • Academic Computing Services
  • Return to Course Index

    © 2001 Deborah De Rosa