The idea of the course is to examine fictional representations of childhood and young adulthood in the experience of twentieth century America. Students will consider characters from diverse ethnic backgrounds, geographic settings, socio-economic groups; and they will consider essential qualities of person and circumstance that distinguish these young men and women. If there is an "American experience," we may find it; if not, we will aim to interpret the experiences that are American. Possible texts include Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson; The Nick Adams Stories by Ernest Hemingway; My Antonia by Willa Cather; Miss Murial and Other Stories by Ann Petry; English Creek by Ivan Doig; The House on Mango Street, Woman Hollering Creek by Sandra Cisneros; How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez; Pigeon Feathers and Other Stories by John Updike; The Beet Queen by Louise Erdrich; The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien. Students will be asked to write two short critical papers (five to seven pages), to deliver an oral report on other significant texts (e.g., Huck Finn, Hawthorne stories, What Maisie Knew, In Country, The Kitchen God's Wife), and to take a final exam.Byrne: The American Short Story.
This course will examine representative readings by American short-story writers, including Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Ralph Ellison, Flannery O'Connor, Richard Wright, John Cheever, Joyce Carol Oates, John Updike and many others. Special emphasis will be placed on the gradual development and changing popularity of the art form. Class participants will be required to pursue additional study and produce a final paper (approximately twenty-five pages) analyzing a collection of works by an individual author. In addition, there will be a final exam.