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FICT 41 W — Good Things in Small Packages: The Art of the Short Story

Quarter: Winter
Course Format: Online course (System Requirements)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Jan 16—Mar 23
Drop Deadline: Jan 19
Units: 3
Tuition: $880
Instructor(s): Suzanne Rivecca
Limit: 17
Status: Registration opens on 12/04/2017
Please Note: Online courses have a new refund policy. The full tuition refund deadline for this course is 1/19 at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is 1/24 at 5:00 pm (PT).
Winter
Date(s)
Jan 16—Mar 23
10 weeks
Drop By
Jan 19
3 Units
Fees
$880
Instructor(s):
Suzanne Rivecca
Limit
17
Registration opens on 12/04/2017
Please Note: Online courses have a new refund policy. The full tuition refund deadline for this course is 1/19 at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is 1/24 at 5:00 pm (PT).
A great short story is all the proof we need that bigger is not necessarily better—or more beautiful, or more profound. Short-fiction writer Steven Millhauser has suggested that the perceived limitations of the short story are actually its greatest strengths: “[I]f you concentrate your attention on some apparently insignificant portion of the world, you will find, deep within it, nothing less than the world itself.” In this course, we will read great short fiction by masters of the genre, from John Cheever to Flannery O’Connor to George Saunders, and learn to take apart these deceptively small gems and figure out how their structure, characterization, dialogue, conflict, language, and plotting build to a sense of emotional crescendo. We’ll tackle questions like: How can we use the space limitations of a short story to our creative advantage? How do you know when you’ve arrived at the end of a story? Is a “resolution” necessary, and what does that mean? What are the standard “rules” of the genre, and when is it okay and even desirable to break them? In the course’s second half, students will draft, workshop, and revise a short story, with intensive feedback from the instructor and fellow students, and with virtual visits from contemporary short story writers whose brains we will pick—and whose craft secrets we will absorb. You will come away with a special appreciation for the limitlessness of a great short story’s artistic and emotional power, and with the tools to get boundless territory out of, as Millhauser put it, “a single grain of sand.”

Suzanne Rivecca, Former Stegner Fellow, Stanford

Suzanne Rivecca’s short story collection, Death Is Not an Option, was a finalist for The Story Prize, the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, and others. She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and the Rome Prize in Literature from the American Academy in Rome. Her short fiction has received two Pushcart Prizes and appeared in The Best American Short Stories 2013.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Alice LaPlante, The Making of A Story, WW Norton, Reprint Edition (2010) (ISBN 978-0393337082)
DOWNLOAD THE PRELIMINARY SYLLABUS » (subject to change)