Dr. Anneliese Watt                    


Syllabus for SL231: Introduction to Short Fiction                            Spring 2005




Course Schedule

SL231-01   Introduction to Short Fiction        2nd hr.    9:00-9:50      O267

SL231-02    Introduction to Short Fiction        6th hr.     12:40-1:30    G317



Office: A203-D, phone 872-6074

Please feel encouraged to drop by the office any time during the normal working day (including Wednesdays), though you may make an appointment if you wish to ensure that I will be there.


Email: watt@rose-hulman.edu

Email is also a good way to communicate with me.  I will use email to communicate with you both individually and collectively, so please check your email regularly.




Required Texts (available in RHIT bookstore)

  • The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction, Shorter Sixth Edition (0-393-97509-6)
  • Best American Short Stories 2004 (0-618-19735-4)


          This course will take a fairly straight-forward approach to reading, discussing, and writing about short stories.  Why? 1) To introduce you to the stories that are an important component and reflection of your culture and also other cultures and eras with which you are less familiar; 2) In the process, to help you to gain insight into yourself and how you fit in your society; 3) To teach you to recognize story-telling techniques that allow fiction writers to successfully achieve desired effects, and to learn the vocabulary that is helpful in discussing what you read.




·         Global—1) Perform, read, or to otherwise engage in artistic, literary, and/or other forms of culture; 2)  Demonstrate an awareness of the historical development of societies and their cultures; 3) Show an awareness of the relationships of nations and the interdependence of peoples around the globe; 4) Acknowledge the contributions of peoples from other cultures to the student’s profession and personal life; 5) Demonstrate an awareness of how the student’s culture predisposes him/her to particular values and perspectives; 6) Show a willingness to examine, adapt, and adopt practices, methods, and ideas from perspectives very different from the student’s own.

·         Contemporary Issues—An understanding of how contemporary issues shape and are shaped by mathematics, science and engineering.

·         Communication—An ability to communicate effectively in oral and written forms.




  • 15% Participation/Small Assignments.  Attendance, preparedness for and participation in discussions, enthusiasm, and general contribution to the class.  When quizzes are given or in-class writing is collected, such small assignments will contribute to this part of your grade.  I’m not going to be lecturing; think of me as your educated tour guide. I need you to help me to create a positive atmosphere of shared learning and discovery.   


  • 30% Short Responses.  Your grades on 5 short response papers will be averaged to determine this portion of your grade.  The available weeks for writing short responses are Weeks 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8.  To have a chance at an “A” for this portion of your grade you must write a response at least 5 of those 7 weeks (you choose which week/s to skip); if you turn in 6 responses, I will drop the lowest grade.  You choose the story and day of the week, but the response must be turned in prior to class discussion of that story (at the beginning of the hour is fine).  Responses will not be accepted late.  You may not turn in more than one response in a given week (they need to be spread throughout the quarter). I expect these responses to consist of two substantial paragraphs: one paragraph of personal reaction to the story, and one paragraph analyzing technique by responding to your choice of the general questions in pages xxx-xxxiii of the text.  (Samples will be provided.) Each response will be assigned a letter grade, and then I will average the five to determine this portion of your grade.


  • 15% Longer Paper #1, on stories read Days 3-18, Draft due April 15, Final due April 19.  

25% Longer Paper #2, on stories read Days 19-38, Draft due May 19, Final due May 24 for continuing students (May 20 for graduating seniors).

You will write two papers of about five pages each in which you offer more extended analysis of a particular aspect of one or more stories of your choice that we read for class. (Sample will be provided.)  You may again use the general questions on pages xxx-xxxiii of the text as jumping-off points.  Your papers may build on our class discussion of the stories, but they should not simply repeat it.  Your papers will be different from our class discussion in that you should find one narrower point that you want to make and then make it thoroughly, drawing passages from the story to support your reading of it.  You may also choose to compare/ contrast two different stories in regard to that particular aspect you are focusing on, for example the use of a first-person narrator.  We’ll be reading pages 933-948, which contain guidelines for writing about fiction that should help you write these papers.  You are also welcome to conference with me for help in narrowing your topic or addressing particular concerns you may have about your paper. 

     The papers will receive a letter grade.  The penalty for failure to have a draft for the peer review session is one full letter grade on the final paper grade; for example, if the final draft of Longer Paper #1 earns a B-, but you did not have a draft ready for the peer review session on April 15, that B- would be recorded as a C-.  There is also a penalty of one grade increment per day for late final drafts, with no papers accepted more than a week after the deadline. 


o       15% Individual and Group Work on 2004 Short Story.  During Weeks 9 and 10 we will be reading selected stories from Best American Short Stories 2004.  Some stories we will read and discuss as a whole class.   But for another portion of this work—the portion comprising this 15% of your grade-- I will assign groups of 4, each group having its own different story from the collection.  As a group, you will work together to understand your assigned story, perhaps supplementing your own reactions with a quick Google search for any readily available information about the author or the story.  Then, each person in the group will produce one of the four group deliverables: (a) plot summary, (b) character descriptions, (c) analysis of theme, or (d) analysis of technique (what you notice about how the story is told or written).  So each group member will be responsible for writing one of these deliverables, and then will get feedback on it from the other group members and have a chance to revise.  The group’s deliverables will then be posted on Angel, and we’ll take a day in class to allow everyone to read the postings by the other groups, and complete a brief in-class writing about the similarities and differences that emerge.  Individuals will receive a letter grade based on the deliverable for which they had primary responsibility, plus group member evaluations of their contributions to the team’s overall understanding of the story and feedback on drafts of the other deliverables.  Each deliverable should be fairly short, 1-2 typed pages.