ENG-232: Introduction to the Short Story

Liberal Arts
English Literature & Composition
Academic Level
Course Subject
Course Number
Course Title
Introduction to the Short Story
Credit Hours
Instructor Contact Hours Per Semester
47.00 (for 15-week classes)
Student Contact Hours Per Semester
47.00 (for 15-week classes)
Grading Method
ENG-131 with a C or better (Note: A "C-" grade is not transferable and is not accepted by some programs at HFC.)
Catalog Course Description

Focuses on reading, discussion, and written analysis of short stories in order to develop 1) skill in literary analysis and interpretation and 2) familiarity with the conventions of the short story. Stories are drawn from various literary traditions, although emphasis may be placed on the American tradition, which has been especially productive and influential. Emphasis may also be placed on the historical development of the short story as a distinct literary genre.

Goals, Topics, and Objectives

Core Course Topics
  1. Introduction to literary terms and methods of discussing literature.
  2. Precursors to the short story.
  3. The emergence of the short story in the nineteenth century.
  4. Twentieth-century short story.
  5. The contemporary short story.
Core Course Learning Objectives (Separated)

Students should be able to accomplish the following: 1. Formulate an interpretive thesis (as opposed to one which merely reports something factual about a literary text).
2. Compose an essay which either * analyzes a literary text, for example by focusing on literary elements such as theme, character, setting, point of view, plot, imagery, metaphor, symbolism, etc., or * analyzes the characteristic themes, features, and / or techniques of a given writer's works, or * analyzes more than one literary text by comparing and contrasting works by more than one short story writer. 3. Identify a range of key terms that are essential to an introductory-level understanding of literature, particularly the short story.
4. Distinguish a short story from a work of fiction that more properly belongs in some other genre, such as a tale, folktale, tall tale, fable, parable, allegory, anecdote, play, screenplay, novella, or novel.
5. Explain how and when the short story emerged as a distinct literary genre, or, more particularly, how the American short story evolved.
6. Explain the ways in which the short story provides a literary experience which is both similar to and different from that of the novel. 7. Explain the importance and/or achievement of some of the key short story writers.

General Information

Note that a grade of C- is not transferrable and is not accepted by some programs at HFC

Assessment and Requirements

Assessment of Academic Achievement


Assessment may include (but need not be limited to) quizzes, class participation, essays, and exams. But assessment must include a minimum of 2,000 words of formal literary analysis.


  1. Students will write at least one out-of-class essay of literary analysis that is at least 1,200 words in length.
  2. Students will take at least one written exam which requires them to analyze literature; whether a single essay or multiple shorter responses, this expository component will count for at least half of the credit for that exam.
General Course Requirements and Recommendations


  1. Students will read at least 25 stories and, optionally, one novella.
  2. Students will read short stories that come from a variety of nationalities, cultures or perspectives, and that represent various stages and notable achievements in the historical development of the genre.
  3. Students will regularly engage in thoughtful discussion of the assigned readings.
  4. Students will study (through assigned readings and/or classroom or online discussion) the cultural contexts from which the literature emerges.
  5. Students will study concepts that are essential to an introductory-level understanding of the short story, such as literature, literary criticism, genre, theme, motif, structure, symbol, style, tone, irony, didacticism, romanticism, realism, naturalism, modernism, postmodernism, magical realism, narrative, fiction, short story, character, protagonist, antagonist, antihero, plot, exposition, conflict, suspense, foreshadowing, crisis, climax, resolution, slice of life, setting, point of view, narrator, stream of consciousness, epiphany, tale, folktale, tall tale, fable, parable, allegory, anecdote, frame story, novella, and novel.


  1. Students should learn appropriate biographical information about assigned writers when such information could be helpful in understanding the literature.
  2. Students should take quizzes on assigned readings.
  3. Students should keep a journal in which they record their responses to assigned readings and class discussions.
  4. Students should learn to place the major assigned writers and texts on an historical time line.
  5. Students should be introduced to literary criticism (as opposed to book reviews) and recognize its prominent place in cultural and literary discussions.
  6. Instructors should welcome and support the diverse identities, backgrounds, and academic experience of our students as essential foundations for college community.


General Education Categories
  • Humanities and Fine Arts
Institutional Outcomes
  • Humanities
MTA Categories
  • Category 5: Humanities and Fine Arts

Approval Dates

Effective Term
Fall 2019
ILT Approval Date
AALC Approval Date
Curriculum Committee Approval Date
Review Semester
Fall 2019