SHORT STORY-Junior/Senior English Elective

  • The Course:  Short Story is a junior/senior English elective course designed to deepen the students’ appreciation of the short story form while building essential skills in reading comprehension and literary analysis.  The format of the course will go back and forth between reading short stories, doing exercises to better appreciate these, writing literary analysis essays, and writing your own creative passages and complete short stories. The skills that you will practice while reading and writing short stories can be applied to success in other areas of academics as well.   

    The Literature:   

    We will read a broad range of literature in the traditional short story form.  We will read a variety of genres from a number of time periods such as: coming of age stories, true stories (memoir and journalism), dramatic lit, mystery, crime, “scary” horror stories, romance, travel, fantasy—and more!   

    We will read classic authors from American and British Literature (19th and 20th centuries) as well as recent 21st century and contemporary work, and we will read a few pieces in translation to get a sense of what is being written in other cultures.   

    We will definitely do a unit mid-autumn focusing on “true stories”, memoir style pieces that can serve as role models and sounding boards for your own writing of the college application “Personal Statement” (Seniors—I hope that will help you! Juniors, never too early to start considering your options.) 

    Foundations Unit:  

    We will lay a foundation for our examination of the short story form by reviewing traditional narrative structure  

    For each story in this unit we will read for overall appreciation of the language style and themes. We will delve into a deeper examination of the key elements that make each narrative unique: plot structure, setting, and character, as well as imagery, symbolism and literary devices. Most importantly, we will learn to evaluate and articulate what we like and don’t like about the literature.   

    Since we all come in with a slightly different background, early on we will build and work with a shared vocabulary of literary terms so that we can then go deeper into appreciating the more complex stories (and alternative medium) addressed later in the semester.  

    Response to Literature and Expository Writing:  

    A major focus of this course is practicing and developing your proficiency at literary interpretation and in writing formal literary analysis papers so that you are really ready for college level work.  To organize our thoughts on stories we will read, annotate, take notes, and use exercises such as narrative mapping, quick write reflections, and visualization, as well as mastering the complete “10 point overview”.   

    Then we will work on writing formal literary interpretation essays creating strong introductions to the literature, formal body paragraphs with CeeCQC structure, and conclusions that go beyond mere summary of the literature to evaluate, compare and contrast with other literature, or consider the implications of the themes for understanding the real world.  You will do some timed written responses and essay exams. But more importantly, we will work with the draft process: from initial reflections through expanding drafts, conducting peer responses, writing revisions, and refining with proofreading. 

    Creative Writing: Many folks who are coming into a class called “Short Story” are really just dying to get a chance to write one of their own. The plan is that you will write at 2-3 full short stories in the course of the semester as well as a number of creative writing exercises to lead up to these. (These stories will be written through the draft process.) If you are inspired to write more, you can earn extra credit.  If you are already working on an original short story, come speak to me soon at tutorial so we can consult (bring a draft copy), and we’ll work out an individualized plan to help you complete your personal project with the benefit of some creative-coaching[Symbol]. 

    Research:  (5 page paper) 

    You will conduct one research project related to coming to better understand the short story genre.  It could be on an author of choice in which you will investigate the author’s life and career, read a few short stories by the author, and then writing a report that includes some comparative literary interpretation.  Or it could be an investigation of a genre or style of fiction that you like such as crime, sci-fi, or fantasy with an overview of the history of the genre and then reading a few stories, creating an expository report that includes some comparative literary interpretation.  Or a report on an alternative mode of storytelling such as: oral story-telling, the video game, graphic novels/comic books, role playing games etc.  The idea is you’ll be able to investigate an area of “short story” that is intriguing to you, read some good stories, and explain what you like about them. 

    Class Participation:  This course can’t be a success without your participation.  We need everyone engaged in class activities, whether during sustained silent reading, small group read aloud and discussion sessions, or whole class reading and discussion—as the saying goes, “the whole is only as good as the sum of its parts”.  We are better together. If you’ve been asked to read for homework, please be prepared (with notes) so that we can move on to response activities and writing sessions. If you been asked to start a draft, make sure you have something so you can work with it in class. 

    Suggested Supplies: Please use organization methods that work best for you!!! (If you are not sure, or if things haven’t worked so well for you in the past, come to tutorial and I can suggest some ways to re-organize and plan your academic study habits.)

    • Binder:  separate binder or section of larger binder with 4-5 dividers: assignments, notes, reference, writing (I suggest T-Th and W-F binders.)
    • Writing Journal (optional):  bound notebook (flat or spiral)—with personalized cover (can use both semesters)
    • Computer Access:  know how you will complete word processing and on-line research.  If you don’t have a computer at home, or don’t have a printer, know where you will do this work (school library, public library, friend’s house etc).  Use the school drive or google docs or some other on-line service to have access to your writing (both in and out of school), and/or have a small flash drive in your supplies!
    • hole punch/ruler can be 3 hole kind for in binder 
    • Utilities case with:   
      • 5 pack of highlighters,
      • post-its,
      • small stapler, 
      • pens, pencils, colored pencils/pens/markers, large eraser, small scissors etc.