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Unit information: The Short Story in 2015/16

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Unit name The Short Story
Unit code ENGL21013
Credit points 10
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Jen Baker
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of English
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This unit will introduce a range of short fiction, focusing especially on developments from the late Victorian period to the present day. Examples will be drawn from writers in a range of countries, including America, Canada, Ireland and the UK. There will be opportunities to develop an understanding of the relationship between form and content, and to consider fiction in various modes, including realism, fantasy, fairy tales, ghost stories, love stories, detective fiction, and magic realism.


This unit aims to introduce students to short fiction in a variety of modes, and as a form practiced by a range of writers drawn from many different countries. There will be an emphasis on close reading, and on the relationship between form and content. The unit will draw on, and may have particular relevance to, parallel work with reading groups in practice-based units on literature and community engagement.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Students will have had an opportunity to read a range of short stories, and to consider the form as it has developed, especially since the late Victorian period, in the hands of a variety of writers. Through this close attention to a particular form of fiction, students will have had opportunities to develop their wider critical practice and understanding of fiction, and to relate their reading to practice-based work in the community.

Teaching Information

The unit will normally be taught in five three-hour seminars, utilising a range of teaching methods including short lectures by the tutor(s), formal and informal presentations by students, and small group discussion.

Assessment Information

Students will be assessed through an essay of 2,000-2,500 words, in which they will be asked to demonstrate the knowledge and understanding they have acquired during the unit. Students may, if they wish, reflect on the use of short fiction in their community engagement work as part of the assessment for this unit.

Reading and References

  • Kate Flint, Victorian Love Stories
  • Richard Dalby, The Virago Book of Ghost Stories
  • V.S. Pritchett, The Oxford Book of Short Stories
  • James Joyce, Dubliners
  • Alice Munro, Friend of My Youth
  • Bernard Malamud, The Complete Stories