Community College of Rhode Island
Fall 2014
ENGL1250-151, Readings in the Short Story
Course Meets: MW, 1 to 1:50 pm, Room 2563
R, 1-1:50pm, Room 2561
Flanagan Campus
Instructor: Beth O’Leary Anish
e-mail: [email protected]
Office: 1364, Flanagan Campus
Office Hours: MWR, 9am-11am
Phone number (during office hours): (401) 333-7139
Course Description:
This course considers the development and themes of the short story. Significant examples from diverse cultures
and historical eras are analyzed and discussed. (Meets literature elective and English concentration requirements.)
Lecture: 3 hours
In this introduction to the short story genre, the instructor will spend some class time delivering lectures on
literary terms, time periods, and cultural background of the stories, but the bulk of class time will be spent in
discussing the stories themselves. While the instructor will facilitate these discussions, student participation is
crucial to their success. Students must come to class prepared to discuss readings found on the syllabus for each
course meeting. Each student in the class will lead the discussion of an author of his or her choice once during the
semester. Students will also be asked to interpret literature in writing, through in-class examinations and takehome essays, and to compose one original short story based on a character from the stories on the syllabus.
Instructional Objectives:
At the conclusion of this course, you should be able to:
- understand how the short story is a distinct literary genre, yet recognize the variety within that genre
- identify some major authors of short stories and their time periods and cultural background
- perform close readings of texts with varying levels of difficulty
- write thoughtfully and critically about short stories
Required Text:
Charters, Ann, Ed. The Story and its Writer: An Introduction to Short Fiction, 9th ed. Boston: Bedford/St.
Martin’s, 2015. ISBN#: 978-1-4576-6461-8.
(CCRI bookstore: )
Expectations for Written Work:
All written assignments completed for homework must be formatted according to MLA style. This means that
papers should be typed and double-spaced, in size 12 font, with 1 inch margins. The student’s name, instructor’s
name, course title and date should appear in top left corner of the first page. No cover page is necessary. On
written assignments where outside sources are used, those sources must be documented according to MLA style.
Assessment Procedures:
Student papers will be judged according to the four bases for revising essays: unity, support, coherence and
sentence skills. To be judged excellent and earn an “A” grade, student papers must have a clear focus, supported
by plenty of specific details presented in an interesting, organized manner and through error-free sentences. As
papers move away from this standard of excellence, grades will be lowered accordingly. See grading rubric on
page 4 of this syllabus for more details.
Course Requirements:
Interpretive Essays: Two take-home essays, 2-3 pages in length each, exploring more deeply a story or
stories by one or more authors. Due 10/2 and 12/4.
Author Presentation: One 5-7 minute presentation on one of the authors on the syllabus (professor will
provide a sign-up sheet with a list of authors from which to choose. The presentation will introduce the
author’s life, background, and historical/cultural situation to the rest of the class. Bonus points for
students who read one additional short story by the author (other than what is in our text) and summarize
it for the class.
Original short story: the only creative writing requirement for this course, students will be asked to write
a 3-10 page story based on one of the characters encountered in the stories we read together. Students
may write a story about the character’s life after the original story ends, or place a character from an
earlier time period in a contemporary setting, etc. Due 11/6.
Examinations: Mid-term Exam (10/15) and Final Exam (date to be announced). Both exams will be
essay-based and completed in class. Students will have a choice of topics on each of the exams.
Class Participation: To earn class participation credit, students must show evidence that they have
completed readings prior to class by making positive contributions to class discussions, and by
offering their peers feedback in writing workshops. The instructor will grade class participation
on a “check”, “check plus” and “check minus” system. A student who makes positive
contributions to writing workshops and full class discussions will receive a “check plus” for that
day of class. A student who shows up for class but does not get involved will receive a “check”
for attending. A student who misses ½ a class, due to tardiness or leaving early, or who comes to
writing workshop days without a draft prepared, will receive a “check minus” for the day. Two
“check minus” grades will count as an absence from the class. At the end of the course, the
instructor will tally up the “check plus” grades to determine the students’ class participation
Grade Breakdown:
Short essays: 30% (2 essays at 15 % each)
Midterm Exam: 15%
Author presentation: 10%
Original short story: 10%
Class Participation: 20%
Final Exam: 15%
Attendance policy:
Students should make every attempt to attend and participate in every class. In the case of a brief illness
or other unforeseen circumstances, however, the instructor understands if a student has to miss a class.
Too many absences will detract from the student’s ability to participate in class and should be avoided.
Absences should be used only for serious illnesses or other emergencies. You are expected to complete
homework assignments even if you are absent; all reading assignments are listed here on this syllabus,
and writing assignments not obtained in class can be found on our course Blackboard site or by emailing the instructor. The first three absences will not affect the student’s grade. For the 4th, 5th
and 6th absence, the student’s final grade will be dropped ½ letter grade each. After six absences
the student should officially withdraw or a final grade of “F” will be given. Two late arrivals or
early departures will be considered equivalent to one absence. This policy is in accordance with
the CCRI English Department’s attendance policy.
Late paper policy:
All written assignments should be handed in on the day they are due according to the syllabus. In the
event that a paper cannot be turned in on time because of an emergency or other problem, you must alert
me in advance and e-mail me the assignment as soon as possible. For each day a paper is late, ½ a letter
grade will be taken off the paper grade. This means a “B” paper turned in one day late will be a “B-”;
the same paper turned in two days late would be a “C+”, etc. After 10 days, even an “A” paper would
be an “F,” so no papers will be accepted more than 10 days late. The final exam will not be
accepted late.
Academic Dishonesty and Plagiarism:
Plagiarism is passing someone else’s words and ideas off as one’s own. Whether that involves taking a
whole paper off the internet, borrowing from a source without acknowledging it, or having a friend or
family member give a little too much input into an assignment, plagiarism is not an accepted academic
practice. Students only learn if they do their own work. It is within the rights of the instructor to fail
a student for an assignment or the course, if he or she has been caught plagiarizing.
Clearly having someone else write a paper or borrowing a paper from the internet is wrong. More subtle
cases of plagiarism happen when students are not clear how to cite sources properly in a research paper.
Know that any time you borrow words or ideas from an outside source you must give credit to the
author of that source. In this class we will follow the guidelines of the MLA (Modern Language
Association), when citing sources for the research paper. You are not expected to know MLA citation
style coming into this course; it will be part of the material taught in the course. For more information
on CCRI’s academic dishonesty policy, see the Student Handbook:
Classroom Etiquette:
All students have a right to learn in this classroom without being distracted by their peers. Please be
considerate of both your instructor and fellow students to maintain a positive learning environment. To
this end, students are not permitted to engage in the following activities during class time:
- text messaging, answering phones or otherwise using phones for games, internet, etc.
- listening to head phones
- holding side conversations or chatting about non-course related topics
- using computer for any purpose other than note-taking or in-class writing assignments
Students engaged in any of the above activities may be asked to leave the classroom.
Class discussions should be conducted with civility and respect for all voices and opinions. It is by
being open to diverse opinions that we best learn. In this classroom you are considered an adult. If you
need to excuse yourself to use the bathroom or take an urgent phone call you can do so without my
permission, and with as little disruption to the class as possible.
Grading Rubric for Literary papers:
Sentence Skills
A (Excellent)
Essay has clear
main point
(thesis), often
stated at end of
Thesis points
paper in one
direction, and is
easily defensible
in a short essay
(not too broad or
too narrow). All
supporting details
in the essay fit
with thesis.
Essay includes
plenty of specific
details and
examples from
text(s), including
quotations, to
back up thesis
B (Good)
Essay has clear
main point (thesis)
in introduction,
though perhaps not
as interesting,
unique or insightful
as that of an “A”
paper. Supporting
details back up
C (Fair)
Essay’s point
(thesis) may be
vague and
difficult to defend
in a short paper,
but writer does
attempt to have a
point or direction.
The paper may
wander off of this
D (Poor)
Essay is lacking a
clear direction or
point (thesis),
supporting details
are scattered to
support various
F (Failing)
There is no point
to the essay.
Essay includes
some specific
details and
examples from
text(s) to support
thesis, but perhaps
not as many as an
“A” paper.
There is not one
clear direction so
support is
vague. Essay
may include more
clichés than
specific details.
Support is vague,
if there at all. No
specific details or
examples to
illustrate what
writer is trying to
Essay flows
smoothly from
start to finish.
There are
between ideas and
paragraphs. Ideas
are arranged in
logical order, and
new paragraphs
started when topic
shifts. Essay
body paragraphs
and conclusion.
Essay includes
clear, error-free
sentences. Few,
if any, fragments,
run-ons, point of
view shifts, etc.
Essay is organized
well overall, but
may include some
places where a new
paragraph should
have been started
and wasn’t, or
where writer jumps
to next topic
without a
transition. Essay
has introduction,
body paragraphs
and conclusion.
Support for thesis
is vague, not
specific. Few
details and
examples are
given as evidence.
Writer may bring
up a point but not
support it.
Essay may jump
around, not flow
smoothly from
start to finish. It
may lack some
Paragraphs could
perhaps be
differently. It
does attempt a
introduction, body
paragraphs and
Essay tries to
cover too many
topics so it
cannot be neatly
organized. It
may lack a
conclusion and
not have enough
body paragraphs.
It may introduce
a point at the end
of the essay that
should have been
developed earlier
in the essay.
Essay has no plan
of organization, no
logical order.
Essay may include
a few grammatical
errors, but not
enough to get in
the way of
writer’s ideas.
At this level paper
errors are found
errors throughout
mistakes become
throughout the
essay. Writer has
a problem; there
essay. It
not communicated
are more run-ons, becomes difficult
ideas clearly.
fragments, point
to understand
of view shifts and
writer’s ideas
misused words
because they are
than in “A” and
not expressed
“B” papers.
Source for the “Four Bases for Revising Essays”: Langan, John. College Writing Skills with Readings, 7 th ed. New York:
McGraw Hill, 2008.
Course Topics/Assignment Schedule:
Week 1
9/3, 4
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
9/29, 10/1,2
Week 6
Week 7
Week 8
For 9/4, read intro to Charters text, p. 1-4, and Appendices 1 and 3, p. 16671675 and 1692-1701, plus Maupassant’s “The Necklace,” p. 879 and
O.Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi,” p. 1147.
Course introduction. Introduction to the Short Story genre.
Read Appendix 2, The Elements of Fiction, p. 1676-1691 and Appendix 5,
Literary Theory and Critical Perspectives, p. 1728-1733, for 9/8; and Poe,
“The Cask of Amontillado,” p. 1108, “The Fall of the House of Usher,” p.
1114, and “The Tell Tale Heart,” p. 1127; plus related commentary by Poe,
1509-1512, for 9/10.
Elements of Fiction. Critical Theory. Edgar Allan Poe.
Read Hawthorne, “The Minister’s Black Veil,” p. 569 and “Young Goodman
Brown,” p. 578, plus related commentary by Melville, p. 1473-1476, for 9/15;
and Appendix 4, Writing About Short Stories, p. 1702-1727 for 9/18.
Nathaniel Hawthorne (9/15 &17). Writing about literature (9/18). Assign
Essay #1 on early American short fiction.
Read Gilman, “The Yellow Wallpaper,” p. 533 and related casebook, p. 15781588 for 9/22; Chopin’s “Desirée’s Baby,” p. 284 and “The Story of an
Hour,” p. 288, plus Chopin’s commentary on Maupassant, p. 1412-143 for
Early Feminist writers: Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Kate Chopin.
Read Hurston, “The Gilded Six-Bits,” p. 594 and “Sweat,” p. 602, plus related
commentaries by Hurst, p. 1434-1442 and Walker, p. 1535-1536 for 9/29 and
Walker, “Everyday Use,” p. 1312 for 10/1. Interpretive Essay #1 due 10/2.
Writing the African American woman: Zora Neale Hurston and Alice Walker.
Read Ch. Lawrence, “Odour of Chrysanthemums,” p. 787 and “The RockingHorse Winner,” p. 801 for 10/6; and Steinbeck, “The Chrysanthemums,” p.
1223, plus related commentaries on Lawrence and Steinbeck, p. 1432-1434
and 1507-1509, for 10/8.
D.H. Lawrence and John Steinbeck. Review for midterm exam, 10/9.
Read Faulkner, “A Rose for Emily,” p. 454 and “That Evening Sun,” p. 460,
plus related commentary, 1424-1425 for 10/16.
Midterm Exam, 10/15. William Faulkner.
No class on Monday, Oct. 13: Columbus Day holiday.
Read Flannery O’Connor, “Everything that Rises Must Converge,” p. 1005,
“Good Country People,” p. 1016, and “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” p. 1031,
plus related commentaries in Flannery O’Connor casebook, p. 1589-1615.
Flannery O’Connor. Introduce creative writing assignment (original story).
Week 9
Week 10 Due:
Week 11 Due:
Week 12 Due:
Week 13 Due:
Week 14 Due:
Week 15 Due:
Week 16 12/15
Read Joyce, “Araby,” p. 675 and “The Dead,” p. 679, plus related
commentaries on “The Dead,” p. 1422-1424 and 1497-1498 for 10/27.
James Joyce. View film of “The Dead,” 10/29-30.
Read Camus, “The Guest,” p. 178 and Frank O’Connor, “Guests of the
Nation,” for 11/3; and O’Brien, “The Things They Carried,” p. 1001 for 11/5.
Creative Writing Assignment: Original Short Story due 11/6.
Albert Camus, Frank O’Connor, Tim O’Brien and the Fiction of War.
Read Conrad, “Heart of Darkness,” p. 299 for 11/10, plus Achebe, “Civil
Peace,” p. 10 and related commentaries on “Heart of Darkness,” p. 1385-1390
and 1513-1515, for 11/13.
Joseph Conrad, Chinua Achebe and Postcolonial Theory.
No class on Wednesday, Nov. 12th: College following Tuesday schedule.
Read Munro, “Age of Faith,” p. 927 for 11/17; and Cisneros, “Barbie-Q,” p.
290, Bambara, “The Lesson,” p. 64, and Olson, “I Stand Here Ironing,” p.
1054 for 11/19. Assign Interpretive Essay #2.
Later 20th-Century Women Writers: Alice Munro, Toni Cade Bambara,
Sandra Cisneros, Tillie Olson.
Read Atwood, “Happy Endings,” p. 32 and Diaz, “How to Date a Browngirl,
Blackgirl, Whitegirl, or Halfie,” p. 394 for 11/24.
Playing with Plot and Point of View: Margaret Atwood and Junot Díaz.
No class on Thursday, Nov. 27: Thanksgiving holiday.
Read Baldwin, “Sonny’s Blues,” p. 40 and related casebook, p. 1544-1555 for
12/1; Ellison, “Battle Royal,” p. 418 and related commentary, p. 1420-1421,
for 12/3; Wright, “The Man Who Was Almost a Man,” p. 1370 for 12/4.
Interpretive Essay #2 Due 12/4.
African American Men’s Fiction of the Civil Rights Era: James Baldwin,
Ralph Ellison, Richard Wright.
Read Lahiri, “Interpreter of Maladies,” p. 771, plus related commentary, p.
1463-1466; Otsuka, “The Children,” p. 1067; and Tan, “Two Kinds,” p. 1232
for 12/8.
Immigrants and Their Children: Jhumpa Lahiri, Julie Otsuka, Amy Tan.
Review for final exam (12/15). Final Exam date to be announced later.

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