We use cookies on this site. By browsing our site you agree to our use of cookies. Close this message Find out more

Home > English home > Information for current students > Undergraduate > Writing and the Short Story (CW3103)
More in this section ReadingLists

Writing and the Short Story (CW3103)

Summer Reading List


Seminar Leader: Redell Olsen

In preparation for this course please make sure that you have read the following anthologies:

  • The New Penguin Book of American Short Stories, from Washington Irving to Lydia Davis, ed. Kasia Boddy (London: Penguin, 2011).
  • The Oxford Book of English Short Stories, ed. A.S. Byatt (Oxford: OUP, 2009).

You will need to bring copies of these anthologies to your seminars. Over the Summer you should also read:

  • Samuel Beckett, First Love (London: Penguin Classics, 2000)
  • Anton Chekov, 'The Lady With The Little Dog', The Lady With The Little Dog and Other Stories, 1896-1904 (London: Penguin, 2002).

We will be considering the possibilities of the short story form and using these stories as a basis for your own writing. Each week we will be reading one or two short stories from these anthologies in detail. In our first session we will consider the short story from a more general perspective. Before attending the first class please read as widely in these anthologies as you can so that you have lots of examples to discuss. In the first session we will consider what the characteristics of a short story are in a variety of stories. You should come to the first seminar with some notes / ideas / examples based on your reading of these anthologies and their introductions.

Here are some suggestions to consider as you read:

How is the short story form different / comparable with other forms such as the novel and poetry? Do you notice any recurring patterns in the forms that these stories take? Do you notice common themes / concerns in the short stories of these anthologies? How does the short story form use elements of plot / character in ways that make it distinct from other genres? As far as you can tell what are the histories and development of the short story in terms of its publication contexts (magazines etc) ? What points of comparison can you establish between the two anthologies? Are their different characteristics of the British and American short story? How have the editors put together their anthologies? What aspects of the short story do you think they have tried to highlight in their selection? What aspects of the short stories that you have read seem useful to you as writers?

Selected Secondary Reading:

a) Practical Guide:

Cox, Ailsa, Writing Short Stories: A Routledge Writer's Guide (London and New York: 2005)

b) Critical

Benjamin, Walter ‘The Storyteller’, in Illuminations (London: Fontana, 1973)

Chambers, Ross Story and Situation: Narrative Seduction and the Power of

Fiction (Manchester: Manchester UP, 1984)

Eisenstein, Sergei The Short Fiction Scenario (London: Methuen, 1988)

Hanson, Clare Short Stories and Short Fictions 1880-1980 (London: Macmillan, 1985)

---------- (ed.) Re-Reading the Short Story (London: Macmillan, 1989)

Head, Dominic The Modernist Short Story: A Study in Theory and Practice (Cambridge: CUP, 1992)

Hunter, Adrian The Cambridge Introduction to the Short Story (Cambridge: CUP, 2007)

Matthews, Brander The Philosophy of the Short Story (New York: Longmans, Green, 1901) (extract reprinted in Great American Short Stories: from Hawthorne to Hemingway. ed. Corinne Demas (New York: Barnes & Noble Classics, 2004).

March-Russell The Short Story: An Introduction (Edinburgh University Press, 2009)

May, C. E. (ed.) The New Short Story Theories, 2nd ed. (Athens: Ohio UP, 1994)

---------- The Short Story: The Reality of Artifice (London: Routledge, 2002)

O'Connor, Frank The Lonely Voice: A Study of the Short Story (Melville House, 2004)

Poe, Edgar Allan ‘The Philosophy of Composition’, in Selected Writings (Harmonsworth: Penguin Books, 1967), 480-92

Scofield, Martin The Cambridge Introduction to the American Short Story (Cambridge: CUP, 2006)

Shaw, Valerie The Short Story: A Critical Introduction (London: Longman, 1983)


Comment on this page

Did you find the information you were looking for? Is there a broken link or content that needs updating? Let us know so we can improve the page.

Note: If you need further information or have a question that cannot be satisfied by this page, please call our switchboard on +44 (0)1784 434455.

This window will close when you submit your comment.

Add Your Feedback