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Topics in Modern/Contemporary American Literature I

American Women Write the Short Story

A black and white photo of a woman

Our 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 Hardwick, Grace Paley, Lucia Berlin, Joyce Carol Oates, Lydia Davis, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Ayşe Papatya Bucak.


Assessments consist of: 

  • Two short presentations
  • One term paper
  • Class participation
  • Final exam


  • ENGL 200
  • ENGL 290

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.