ENGLISH 251: The Short Story (UC:CSU credit)


Professor Karin Garlepp Burns                                          Faculty Office 2504                             

Email: burnskg@piercecollege.edu                                     Voicemail: 818/710-4325

Office Hours: M-Th 9:00-9:30; F 9-12


Course Description

English 51 focuses on the short story tradition, especially by American writers, exploring major works and developments within this genre.  We will cover elements of fiction as expressed by diverse authors over time, such as plot, character, point of view, setting, symbolism, etc.  We will also examine writers’ own view of their storytelling craft.


Course Prerequisites

Successful completion of English 101.  English 102 is recommended and may be taken concurrently.


Course Requirements

Attendance is required and participation is highly encouraged.  Exams rely heavily on material covered in class, which includes passages to be identified and analyzed in the exams.  There is regular homework on the readings and associated storytelling techniques.  Read the assigned stories attentively before every class meeting to ensure understanding of lectures and facilitate class discussion.


Grades: essay 1 (5 pages) 15%; midterm (short answer)15%; essay 2 (7 pages)25%; final exam (short answer & essay 35%; miscellaneous: attendance, homework, participation  10%


Required Texts:         Charters, Ann. Ed. The Story and Its Writer.


Course Policies

1.      Cell phones and ipods must be OFF during class.  Thank you for this courtesy.

2.      Plagiarism: using someone else's words, ideas, or work as your own without acknowledgement will result in failure of the course.

3.      Tardies and absences will lower student performance and may affect course status.  More   

      than 2 absences by the end of the census will result in the student being excluded from the   

      class.  It is the students' responsibility to drop themselves from class, however.

3.  Late essays are accepted one period after the deadline only.  Thereafter, they lapse to an "F."

4.      Late essays are penalized one letter grade. If you know of schedule conflicts that may require you to submit a paper late, you must discuss it with me before the due date.

5. All essays must follow the MLA style to be accepted. 




Course Assignments


All assignments are due on dates given below.  Literary terms in italics  are in Appendix 6 in the Charters textbook.  Exams cover all material listed, including the literary terms.


Week 1          

Tu 2/7              Course introduction: a brief history of short fiction; fiction, short story

Th 2/9              The tale tradition: Hawthorne, “Young Goodman Brown”(526); “Blackness in Hawthorne’s ‘Young Goodman Brown’” (1499); allegory, verbal irony, setting


Week 2          

Tu 2/14            Poe, “The Tell-Tale Heart” (1110); “The Importance of the Single Effect in a Prose Tale” (1661) (dramatic irony, point of view)

Th 2/16            Poe, “The Cask of Amontillado”(1092); “The Question of Poe’s Narrators” (1671)


Week 3          

Tu 2/21            The realist tradition: de Maupassant, “The Necklace” (838) (character, realism)

                        (local color, pathos)

Th 2/23            Jewett, “A White Heron” (623); “Looking Back on Girlhood” (1478)


Week 4          

Tu 2/28            Bierce, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” (116) (climax, flashback)


Th 3/2              Chekhov, “The Darling” (223); Tolstoy, “Chekhov’s Intent in ‘The Darling’” (1552); (ambiguity, tone)


Week 5          

Tu 3/7              Gilman, “The Yellow Wallpaper” (468); “Undergoing the Cure for Nervous Prostration” and “Why I Wrote ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’” (1460) (symbol, theme)

Th 3/9              Wharton, “Roman Fever” (1334) (antagonist, protagonist)


Week 6          

Tu 3/14            Crane, “The Open Boat” (329); “The Sinking of the Commodore” (1438) (figurative language, naturalism)

Th 3/16            Essay 1 due;

                        The modernist tradition


Week 7          

Tu 3/21            Joyce, “Araby” (646) (epiphany, initiation story)

Th 3/23            Mansfield, “Bliss” (811), “The Stories of Katherine Mansfield” (1417) (atmosphere, mood)


Week 8          

Tu 3/28            Lardner, “Haircut” (anecdote, voice)

Th 3/30            Midterm Exam: bluebook required (closed book)


Week 9          

Tu 4/10            Hurston, “Sweat” (563); “How It Feels to Be Colored Me” (1600) (allusion)

Th 4/12            Wright, “The Man Who Was Almost a Man” (1367); (dialect)



Week 10        

Tu 4/18            Contemporary stories: O’Connor, “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” (1030); “A Reasonable Use of the Unreasonable” (1624) (foreshadowing)

Th 4/20            Oates, “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” (977); “The Pied Piper of Tucson” (1650) (surrealism)


Week 11        

Tu 4/25            Garcia Marquez, “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” (462); Interview for the Paris Review (fantasy, magical realism)

Th 4/27            Poniatowska, “A Little Fairy Tale”; “Little Red Riding Hood” (fairy tale, parody)


Week 12        

Tu 5/2              O”Brien “The Things They Carried" (990); “On Tim O’Brien’s ‘The Things They Carried” (1496); (episode)

Tu 5/4              Mason, “Shiloh”(826) (pace)


Week 13        

Tu 5/8              How to compare and contrast stories: lecture and sample essay

Th 5/10            Essay 2 due; Erdrich, “The Red Convertible” (382) (image)


Week 14        

Tu 5/16            Alexie, “Dear John Wayne” (satire); The Searchers - film clip

Th 5/18            Lahiri, “The Interpreter of Maladies” (anti-hero)


Week 15        

Tu 5/22            Moore, “How to Become a Writer” (909) (metafiction)

Th 5/24            Atwood, “Happy Endings” (43)’ Beattie “Snow” (antistory); wrap up


Final Exam: Closed book exam, includes essay.