Great 20th Century American Short Fiction

This is an 8 week seminar, starting March 9, 2017.

Moderator:                Joanne Creighton
Day and Time:         Thursday, 9:30-11:30 AM
Format:                       Seminar
Location:                   UMass Renaissance Center Reading Room, Amherst
                                        (free parking on site)

Close reading and discussion of some classic American short stories by Henry James, William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, Katharine Anne Porter, Joyce Carol Oates, and ZZ Packer.

This seminar looks at memorable short fiction of six American writers, spanning early to late 20th century, who portray a changing American society and the complexities of family, race, class, and gender as well as the insidious dynamics of privilege and prejudice, sexism and racism, mental instability and disability, violence and self-destruction, and most especially what Faulkner called “the human heart in conflict with itself.”
Tracing historical, cultural, and literary contexts, we will identify American themes and modernist techniques which complicate and enrich our reading of these works.

Role of participants:
Read all the stories, choose one or two for a 30 minute presentation focusing on what you find most interesting about themes, characters, and craftsmanship, and help to lead subsequent discussion.

Henry James, The Turn of the Screw, Dover, 1991; also available digitally*;
*William Faulkner, “Wash,”   “Barn Burning.”  “Dry September,” “Rose for Emily”;
Flannery O’Connor, Everything That Rises Must Converge, Farrar, Strauss, 1965 *.
“A Good Man is Hard to Find”;
*Katharine Anne Porter, “He,” (1927) “Rope,” (1928) “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall,”
(1930)  “Noon Wine” (1939), “Downward Path to Wisdom” (1939);
*Joyce Carol Oates, “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” (1966), “How I
Contemplated  My Life from the Detroit House of Correction,” “Concerning the Case of Bobby T,”  “In the    Warehouse,” “Extenuating Circumstances,” “The Premonition”;
ZZ Packer, Drinking Coffee Elsewhere and Other Stories, Riverhead, 2004 and *“Gideon.”

*Asterisk indicates stories available digitally through an url or pdf supplied by the moderator.

About the Moderator:
Joanne Creighton, Professor of English at Mount Holyoke College, has taught these writers and works many times over the course of her long career.  She has published books on Faulkner and Oates.