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Title: ENGL 311-01, Advanced Fiction Writing, Spring 2009
Authors: Hathcock, Barrett
Keywords: English, Department of;Syllabus;Curriculum;Academic departments;Text;2009 Spring
Issue Date: 14-Jan-2009
Publisher: Memphis, Tenn. : Rhodes College
Series/Report no.: Syllabi CRN
Abstract: We might subtitle this class Varieties of Realism, or John Cheever and his Children. In short, it’s the class in which you will continue to work on your own fiction while becoming more self-conscious of literary history and context and where that history might leave you as a beginning writer here in 2009. That means that we will continue to read the stories before us with an eye to how they work as stories—what devices and narrative techniques they employ to generate meaning—but we will also at the same time read them with an eye toward literary history and how each of these authors responds to that history (or doesn’t). The point is not only for you to work on your individual stories but to begin to think of your individual stories as existing within that continuum. A premise: the 20th century saw the short story go from the medium with which authors earned their living and created the financial space in which to write their novels (Faulkner, Fitzgerald) to the medium from which practically no one makes their living. In strict economic terms, the short story no longer has a reason to exist. And yet stories still continue to be written, and freed from paying an author’s rent, tied to no commercial purpose, they are free now to wholly be art, and perhaps to respond in some way to the medium which usurped short fiction’s position in the culture: television. And so we will look at how these various authors have handled this change in literary history. Our big canonical text is the mid-century master John Cheever, one of the last professional story writers and one of the geniuses of “realism.” With his example of form, subject matter, and aesthetic vision before us, we will read four much more contemporary examples of short fiction to see how these writers have continued the traditions of Cheever or thrown them off entirely to pursue the fantastical, the unreal, the satirical, etc. And we will discuss how these different authors respond to the subsequent influx of mass culture and the schisms of post-modernism. More broadly, just as in 201, in this workshop we will read, discuss, write, and revise literary short fiction. Literary fiction discloses truths about human experience in a moving and artful way. It strives for seamless mimesis while simultaneously making resourceful and aesthetically sound use of all the various aspects storytelling, including language, point of view, plot, character, setting, metaphor, symbolism and tone. In short, you will endeavor to write literature. For the purposes of the class, you cannot write genre fiction—that is, fantasy, science fiction, mystery, children’s fiction, young adult fiction, and so on. However, hopefully our discussions will also reveal how this prescription gets a little complicated at this point in literary history.
Description: This syllabus was submitted to the Office of Academic Affairs by the course instructor.
Appears in Collections:Course Syllabi

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