There have always been stories that are short, but “the short story” has been a recognized category of literature for only about 200 years. Standalone short stories emerged in magazines and newspapers of the early 19th century. In this class you’ll learn about the first century (roughly 1800-1920) of short stories as they developed across the world. You’ll develop skills for analyzing their techniques of plotting, characterization and style. In addition, the class will guide you through your own research into short stories from times and places that interest you.
This class has a global scope. You’ll read stories from the US, Britain, France, Germany, and Russia that continue to be influential in the English-speaking world alongside stories from countries including Brazil, China, India, Japan, Lebanon, Mexico, and Sierra Leone. The class also features numerous African American writers, who haven’t been part of the standard history of the genre. All stories will be provided in English, and students with additional language skills are encouraged to read in the original language where relevant. Your major project for this class is to explore magazine and newspaper archives for a forgotten short story that interests you, and create a digital publication to reintroduce it to the world.