English 242 E: Short History of the Short Story B-term summer 2015

English 242 E:Short History of the Short Story

Summer2015B-term W-Course VLPA and W Writing

Counts toward the English Minor

SLN 11314

Instructor: Norman Wacker nwacker@uw.edu


Dating back to the time of Anton Chekov, the short story as a craft and a window on sensibility, personality and society begins to reach audiences made possible as print media, popular literacy, the magazine and book trades created mass and global readerships.  The short story and serialized novels began to be freely available, inexpensive and popular, and in the process, they became mirrors which readers held up to themselves and their times.

Key Questions:

What are the impacts of craft and innovation in this medium on its readers, their sensibility, sense of fashion and conduct? How do writers and their approach to character, point-of-view, social convention, plot, use of narration and dialogue frame the inner and the social experience of the reader? 

We will use these fundamental questions, informal writing about our reading experience and analysis of the way our writers construct that experience, to document our experience as readers, even as we engage and explore the practice of the writer.


Brief low-stakes homework reading log entries, in-class writes and active sharing in class discussion of our reading experience. Engaged preparation and active participation in each class meeting.

3-short analytical papers on

1) What we see when we read

2) The writer’s hand in what we read, and

3) One work and why it matters in our short history of the short story.

Reading List (in Progress):

Anton Chekov, “The Lady with the Pet Dog;” W. Sumerset Sommerset Maugham, "Appointment in Samarra;" James Joyce, “The Dead;” Ivo Andrić, “Letter from 1920;” Danilo Kiš, “Encyclopedia of the Dead;” Drago, Jančar,“Joyce’s Pupil;” Muharem Bazdulj, “Another Letter;” Dubravka Ugrešić from   "Museum of Unconditional Surrender;" Phillip Roth, “The Conversion of the Jews,” Alice Munro, “The View from Castle Rock;” Lydia Davis, “Five Stories;”  Haruki Murakami, "Yesterday."

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