Reading Fiction for Craft

In this course, we’ll examine the various aspects of craft employed by writers of fiction. You might say that if most literature classes focus on why we value writers ranging from James Joyce to Flannery O’Connor, this class is devoted to discussing the ways in which Joyce, O’Connor, and many others achieved their effects, using only ink, paper, and the words in the dictionary – humble and common materials, available to anyone, but rendered potent and unprecedented by writers who combined them in very particular ways.

Although any good story involves characters, voice, structure, and etc., we’ll concentrate, each week, on a single aspect of craft in the stories we’ve read.

How, for instance, did Joyce structure the narrative in the short story “Araby?” How did O’Connor develop the vivid and believable characters in “Good Country People?”

We’ll be performing writing exercises as well, for much of the semester, and during the final weeks you’ll be asked, simply, to write a story of your own, using what you’ve learned about craft.

With regrets, I’ve confined the reading list to stories written in English, which of course eliminates a great deal of significant world literature. I’d rather, however, that we read and discuss the stories without wondering over the quality of their translations.

There is no text for this course – our reading is sufficiently wide-ranging that you’d have to buy at least a dozen books. The readings will be posted each week.

ENGL 134 is open to all students. Although a background in literature and writing is helpful, it’s not required, nor is the standard creative writing course application. Interested students should attend the first class for placement information.


Undergraduate Course #: 
T 3:30pm-5:20pm