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Topics in American Literature

"The Story is the Thing": American Women Write the Short Story

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This course will examine the form of the short story and its utility in conveying the life experiences and insights of American women writers.  We will read their works in light of historical events and feminism’s evolution in the United States, explore how their writings address gender and depict domestic lives and familial relations, and consider their respective use of the short story’s hallmark brevity and concision in rendering the experiences of everyday life.  (Consider Lydia Davis’s story, “Example of the Continuing Past Tense in a Hotel Room”, as an example of such brevity.  Its single sentence reads: “Your housekeeper has been Shelly.”)  Authors studied include: Zora Neale Hurston, Dorothy Parker, Elizabeth Bishop, Elizabeth Hardwick, Grace Paley, Lucia Berlin, Lydia Davis, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Ayse Papatya Bucak.


Evaluation will be based on one presentation (30%), one research paper (50%) and your contribution to class discussion over the semester (20%).


Department of English, Queen's University

Watson Hall
49 Bader Lane
Kingston ON K7L 3N6

Telephone (613) 533-2153



Queen's University is situated on traditional Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe territory.