American Short Story

Course title: American Short Story
Instructor: Asst. Prof. Sven Cvek
ECTS credits: 6
Status: elective
Semester: 4th or 6th
Enrollment requirements: Introduction to the Study of English Literature 1 and 2

Course description:
The short story in the US is said to be the “national art form”. Taking up this assumption critically, this course we will offer a historical overview of the presence of the short story in American culture. We will consider the formal, institutional and political-economic aspects of the short story’s production, distribution, and reception. We will be especially interested in: the assumption about the national belonging of this form; the problems of cultural form or genre; the material conditions for the form’s continuity and change. Therefore, we will approach the short story in the context of wider social relations, paying particular attention to the relationship between social transformation and formal change. Since the short story spans the entire history of the United States, the course will vary and shift its focus, both in terms of historical period (from 1800 until today), and in terms of specific problems (the question of genre; of literary infrastructure, such as magazines and creative writing workshops; the question of the short story as a cultural document; the question of transformations and possibilities of short forms today; etc).

Course objective:
The objective of the course is to introduce students to the corpus of the American short story, the theoretical and critical literature about this form, as well as encourage them to think critically about the emergence, development and changes of cultural forms in the context of wider social processes.

Course requirements:
regular attendance and reading, written continual assessment, final essay paper.

Selection of American short stories.
Online material (Omega).
Bendixen Alfred & James Nagel (eds), A Companion to the American Short Story. Wiley-Blackwell, 2010.
Gelfant Blanche H. & Lawrence Graver (eds), The Columbia Companion to the Twentieth-century American Short Story. Columbia UP, 2000.
Levy, Andrew. The Culture and Commerce of the American Short Story, Cambridge UP, 1993.
Scofield, Martin. The Cambridge Introduction to the American Short Story. Cambridge UP, 2006.
Shapiro, Stephen. Culture and Commerce of the Early American Novel:
Reading the Atlantic World-System. The Pennsylvania State UP, 2008.