Our textbook is Dana Gioia and R. S. Gwynn's The Longman Anthology of Short Fiction: Stories and Authors in Context (paperback, 2001). Find out how to get a copy by clicking here. All page references in the Course Schedule are to this book. Other readings (required or recommended) are indicated by links, which appear in blue underlined font.
Before printing off a copy of this schedule, be sure to read the pointers about Using the Course Schedule.
Schedule of Assignments for first two weeks
12 Jan (W): Introduction to the course (with initial handout).
14 Jan (F): In class today (second session) we will discuss a classic short story that many of you are already familiar with. (See Item 4 below: be sure to come to class with the text of the story in hand and having read this story in accompaniment with the study guide.)
Meanwhile, as soon as possible after our first class session, you should do the following:
(1) Review the following items on our course web site, to get a basic idea of what we will be up to, and why.(2) Explore the various features of the course website at K-State Online online.ksu.edu.
- Some pointers about using the Course Schedule.
- The description of the goals and scope of the course.
- The description of how work in the course will be evaluated ("Grades") and how to submit work for evaluation.
- Notice that the first of these has links to a succinct and a more detailed explanation of the criteria I will use in evaluating essays and exams.
- Notice also that a key factor in your ultimate score will be determined by your contributions to the discussions that take place over the course message boards. (These are not "extra-credit" points, but required -- points that are easy to acquire, but disastrous to give up.)
You may well have some questions about what you find here. Bring them to our next class.
- If you are reading this Course Schedule on a site other than K-State Online, go there now by clicking on the above link. If you don't already have an account there, create one by clicking on the link there that takes you through the process.
- If you already have an account there (as you must, if you're reading this on that site!), review your personal information on file there to make sure that it is current.
- Take special care to be sure that the e-mail address you give actually works! (Send a message to yourself there, and make sure it arrived. If it doesn't, use a different e-mail account for this course, and be sure to check your mail there regularly.)
(3) Acquire a copy of the text for the course. It would be well to familiarize yourself with its layout, and to begin early with the reading assignment for Wednesday, January 22, our next session of class. The best way to get some idea of this is to skim the opening pages (pp. xvii-xxi) of the authors' "Preface." But if you can't get hold of the text itself just now, you can still examine its layout by taking a look at its features and table of contents. While you're at it, you might have a look at the Companion Website to the text. (This compilation for students is under construction, but there's already a lot there for satisfying hungry curiosities.)
==> You don't need to bring the textbook with you to class today (Friday, 14 Jan). But once you've acquired it, you need to have it with you during our class discussions. (Yes, it's heavy. But the kind of close reading we'll be doing in class -- often in small groups -- can' work unless you have the text in front of you to consult.) On the other hand, if you have acquired the text, you don't need to print out the story we'll be discussing (next item): come to class then with the text in hand.
(4) Come to class having read, and prepared to discuss, Kate Chopin's "Story of an Hour". (If you have acquired our text-- Gioia & Gwynn's Longman Anthology of Short Fiction -- you'll find it on p. 430. Otherwise print it off from the link just given. [Just in case that link isn't working, you can get the story here or here.])
There is a Study Guide to this story. Make use of it. (At the bottom of this Study Guide, there is a link to a writing assignment on the story. You may ignore this for now, though you are welcome to look at it.)
(5) If you have our text, now's the time to make your initial acquaintance with our editors' discussion of characterization (pp. 1868-71). We'll revisit the issues here soon, but for now begin getting clear about the distinctions between flat and round characterization on the one hand and the distinction between static and dynamic characterization on the other. (You will want to print off the glossary entries pointed to by the two links just given.)
17 Jan (M): No Class -- University/Student Holiday.
19 Jan (W): In class today (third session) we will discuss a few short pieces listed below as examples of stories that are short that are not instances of what we mean by the term "short stories." Some features of them turn up in short stories (in our sense of the term), but others don't. We'll have more to say about this later on in the course, but we'll have some fun with these at the outset.
(1) Bring to class your copy, well studied, of
- the tale "Appointment in Samarra" (as retold by W. Somerset Maugham).
- There's a Study Guide to this little piece that may pique your curiosity about how it's put together. In this case, though, it's best not to consult it until after you've made your intiial reading of the tale.
- the traditional humorous tale (from German folklore) of "The Horse of Schilda".
- the Grimm Brothers' folktale "Godfather Death".
- After you've read the tale, reflect on it analytically in the light of the Study Guide.
(2) Read what our editors have to say
- in the first 2 paragraphs on p. 11
- about the folktale as a genre (pp. 21-22), and
- about "The Essential Qualities of the Short Story" (the first 2 paragraphs on pp. 1848).
(3) Read what our editors have to say on the topic of plot (pp. 1863-68).
There's lots of stuff here. We'll be revisiting this material later in the course. For now, take a quick tour through the chapter, and then reread carefully the paragraph beginning at the end of p. 1868 (and continuing to the top of the next page), and pp. 1866-68 (the elements of "Freytag's pyramid": exposition, rising action [conflict/complicatio], climax, falling action, and denoument) and epiphany.
21 Jan (F): In class today, we'll look at a famous short story in the "proper" sense of the term:
(1) Have read for discussion Guy de Maupassant's "The Necklace" (pp. 1184-95 in our text). [If you still don't have our textbook, you can get the story here or here. (Be sure to bring the text to class, either in book form or as a printout from one of these links.)]
- Read the biographical sketch in our text (p. 1183) or linked to from the site (above) from which you printed off the story.
(2) Read de Maupassant's remarks on "The Realist Method" (pp. 1195-96).
(3) Read what our editors have to say about the centrality of de Maupassant in the development of the modern short story ("Late Nineteenth-Century France," pp. 1847). What do they point to that connects de Maupassant with traditional fiction? What do they point to that emphasizes the path peculiar to the short story as a modern fictional genre?
(4) Be prepared to take a short quiz at the end of the class hour today.
24 Jan (M): For today: a different kind of traditional story that is short but is not a "short story" in the sense of the term in the title of our course.
(1) Have read for discussion the following short pieces. Print them off from the following links. (Note that if you have acquired our textbook you won't need to print some of these out. Just bring the text to class instead.)
- Aesop, "The Oak and the Reeds" (three versions)
- Bidpai, "The Camel and His Friends" (from the Panchatantra, c. 300 BCE). [In our text, pp. 17-18.]
- Ambrose Bierce, "The Moral Principle and the Material Interest"
- James Thurber, "The Owl Who Was God".
- There is a Study Guide to this fable.
(2) If you have our text, read what the editors have to say about fables (pp. 15-16). Otherwise, read the Introduction to fables at Tomsdomain.com.
26 Jan (W): And, for today, still another kind of traditional short fiction: the parable -- related to, but more or less distinct from the fable.
(1) Have read, and bring to class the texts of, the following:
- Nathan's Parable for David (2 Samuel 11-12:1-25; aka 2 Kings 11-12:1-25)
- Use the Study Guide to this reading.
- Chuang-Tzu, "Independence" [In our text, you'll find this on pp. 19-20.]
- Be sure to exploit the Study Guide to this reading.
- Matthew, the Parable of the Sower and the Parable of the Good Seed (Matthew 13:3-23; Matthew 13:24-30, 37-43, respectively)
- Luke, Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32)
- After your first reading, work through the Study Guide to this story.
- Sigmund Freud's allegorization of the traditional tale of "The Horse of Schilda".
- Franz Kafka, "Couriers"
(2) Read what our editors say about the genre known as parable (pp. 18-19).
28 Jan (F): Today we'll look at a couple of examples of novella (or nouvelle), and contrast them with another story by Kate Chopin
(1) Have read for discussion
- Giovanni Boccaccio's "The Pot of Basil" (pp. 32-36)
- Marguerite of Navarre's "The One-Eyed Servant and His Wife" (pp. 35-36)
- Kate Chopin, "The Storm" (pp. 42-29). (Make use of the Study Guide for this story!)
(2) Read what our editors have to say about the genre of novella (or nouvelle) (pp. 31-32).
(3) Review our editors' observations on "The Essential Qualities of the Short Story" (p. 1848).
(4) Read what our editors have to say about the topic of setting (pp. 1873-74).
(5) Be prepared to take a brief quiz over "The Storm" at the end of class today.
Suggestions are welcome. Please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Contents copyright © 2005 by Lyman A. Baker.
This page last updated 10 January 2005.