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Fall 1997 305 South College
MWF 10:10-11:00 Office hours: W 1:30-3:30
Machmer W-22 Phone: 545-5810/E-mail:


This class is an introduction to the close reading and textual analysis of short fiction. As a Comparative Literature class, it aims to examine stories written in languages other than English (read in translation) as well as to consider the heterogeneity of English-language short story production. Stories can open up different worlds to the reader, and we will work to develop strategies of reading that are sensitive to cultural differences. In addition, we will work toward an understanding of the short story as a specific literary genre, with strengths and limitations shared between various story writers.

Since the reading load is not as heavy as for other courses, you will be expected to do careful and thorough readings of the assigned stories before coming to class. When you've read them once, read them again! You will be required to demonstrate your analytical skills in class discussion as well as in numerous papers, details of which are provided below.




***Additional writing guidelines will follow.

Week One. Formal and Thematic Introduction to the "International Short Story"

9/3 "The Snow Child", Angela Carter (C) . Short and...sweet?

9/5 "A Travel Piece", Margaret Atwood (C). How do we relate to different cultures?
The flawed model of the travel writer.

Weeks Two-Four. Short Story: Origins and Materials

9/8 "The Necklace" and "The Writer's Goal", Guy de Maupassant. A straightforward
tale...with a twist.

9/10 "The Purloined Letter" (C), Edgar Allan Poe. The question at the heart of the story.

9/12 Discussion

9/15 "The Tell-Tale Heart" and "The Importance of the Single Effect in the Prose Tale", Edgar
Allan Poe. With what eloquence does a madman speak?

9/17 "The Overcoat", Nikolai Gogol. The narrator is sane...but shifty.

9/19 Disc.

9/22 "The Lady with the Pet Dog" and "Technique in Writing the Short Story", Anton
Chekhov. The objects that speak reality.

9/24 The Problems of/in Translation. (In-class exercise.)

9/26 Disc. First response due.

Weeks Five to Nine: Inside and Across Nations: Writing and Difference

Week Five: Writing and Sexual Difference

9/29 "Desirée's Baby", Kate Chopin. At the crossroads of gender and race.

10/1 "The Yellow Wallpaper", Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Who is making the narrator sick?
"The Hidden Woman" (C), Colette. What does a woman want?

10/3 Disc.

Weeks Six to Eight: Colonial differences

10/6 "Heart of Darkness", Joseph Conrad, Session One. Europe's bad dream...

10/8 "Heart of Darkness", Session Two.

10/10 Disc.

10/13 No class, Columbus Day.

10/15 "A Meeting in the Dark" (C), Ngugi wa Thiong. The legacy of colonialism.

10/17 No class, instructor away.

10/20 "Dead Men's Path" (C), Chinua Achebe. The irony of colonialism. Second response due.

10/22 "In the Shadow of War", Ben Okri. Civil war through a child's eyes...

10/24 Disc.

Week Nine: Internal colonies and minor literatures.

10/27 "The Metamorphosis", Franz Kafka, Session One. Deterritorialization I: the tragedy and
comedy of the absurd.

10/29 "The Metamorphosis", cont'd. "The Guest", Albert Camus. Deterritorialization II: The
grim reality of the absurd.

10/31 Disc.

Weeks Ten-Thirteen: Literary Representation: A Meta-narrative of Short Story Development

11/3 "A Simple Heart", Gustave Flaubert. Naturalism and attention to detail

11/5 "The Boarding House" (C), James Joyce. Modernism and economy of style.

11/7 Disc.

11/10 "Diary of a Madman" (C), Lu Xun. The cannibalism of tradition. Third response due.

11/12 "The Thief" (C), Tanizaki Junichiro. The evolution of a species...

11/14 "The Postmaster" (C), Rabindrath Tagore. The cost of modernism and urbanization.

11/17 "The House on the Esplanade" (C), Anne Hébert. The hint of the supernatural.

11/19 "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings", Gabriel García Márquez. The supernatural
brought down to earth; the wonder of magic realism.

11/21 Disc.

11/24 Peer-evaluation day: first draft of final paper due.

11/26 "The Garden of Forking Paths", Jorge Luis Borges. Postmodernism, and the labyrinth of
time, space, and meaning.

11/28 No Class (Thanksgiving Break)

Weeks 14-15: Doing what we can with what we've got; heterogeneity at home

12/1 "All at One Point" (C), Italo Calvino. The languages of art and science implode.
Revised draft of final paper due.

12/3 "Simon's Luck" (C), Alice Munro. Time as a multi-faceted jewel.

12/5 "Girl", Jamaica Kinkaid and "Roselily", Alice Walker. Two experimental narratives.
Revised drafts returned with comments.

12/8 "The Management of Grief", Bharati Mukherjee. Mourning in a divided community.

12/10 "Good Advice is Rarer than Rubies" (C), Salman Rushdie. At home at the crossroads.

12/12 Closing remarks. Final paper, final draft due.

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