Short Story

In this course, we’re going to study
and practice the art of storytelling. During the first half of the semester
we’ll study the foundational elements of the traditional short story–character,
point of view, dialogue, plot, setting, etc.–by reading and discussing the
work of a few 20th-century masters of the short story form: Flannery O’Connor,
Joyce Carol Oates, Raymond Carver, Haruki Murakami, Denis Johnson, and others.
Our goal for the first part of the course is to learn how to approach stories
as writers, which means focusing on craft, on the writer’s choices and
techniques and methods. In the first few weeks, you’ll complete a number of
informal writing exercises, designed to give you practice in different modes of
writing, and at the midpoint of the semester you’ll write one 3- to 4-page
essay focusing on some element of craft. During the second half of the semester,
we’ll turn our attention to student writing, and at this point the class will
become a classical creative writing workshop–meaning we’ll read and
constructively critique one another’s work, putting our deepening knowledge of
the story-writer’s craft into practice. Each student will submit a total of two
short stories (roughly 7-12 pages each), at least four days in advance of their
respective workshop, and each student will be expected to revise their stories
for a final portfolio to be handed at the semester’s end.


  • THE ELEPHANT VANISHES, Haruki Murakami.
  • JESUS’ SON, Denis Johnson.
  • GHOST WORLD, Daniel Clowes.
  • SELF HELP, Lorrie Moore.
  • PASTORALIA, George Saunders.
  • Reading packet.