Mystery and Manners: The American Short Story (EAS3238)

StaffDr Jane Feaver - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level6
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

The stories and critical works of four influential American short story writers will be used as models to explore advanced techniques of fiction-writing.  Through practical exercises and critical discussion, the module will develop students' awareness and understanding of the short story as a distinct form, and confidence in the processes involved in composing original short fiction, including developing ideas, drafting, revising, editing and publishing.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. gain an informed appreciation of the work and writing craft of four influential American short story writers.
  • 2. demonstrate an understanding of the technical qualities of short fiction, including narrative structure, voice, setting, character and the role of conflict.
  • 3. demonstrate a capacity to write short fiction in a manner informed by an understanding of fiction-writing techniques and approaches.
  • 4. develop advanced skills of close reading, and creative, critical analysis of the short story as a distinct form.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 5. develop confidence in the craft of composition – learning to recognize and practise techniques of characterization, setting, narrative, suspense - in order to create original works of short fiction.
  • 6. construct persuasive written and oral arguments concerning student’s own creative writing and those literary models looked at over the course of the module.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. demonstrate, through seminar work and presentations, advanced communication skills, an ability to work both individually and in groups.
  • 8. demonstrate, through writing critical and self-reflective essays and creative work, an advanced capacity to construct a coherent, substantiated argument, advanced skills of creative expression, appropriate research and bibliographic skills and a capacity to write clear and correct prose.
  • 9. demonstrate, through research for seminars and essays, advanced proficiency in information retrieval and analysis.
  • 10. demonstrate, through the creative assessment and essay, the ability to write for a range of audiences (including non-academic audiences); and show an awareness of the publishing market for short fiction.

Syllabus plan

  1. Introduction: The nature of the beast
  2. Setting out
  3. Exposition of Character and Point of View
  4. Character building
  5. Narrative potential and mounting of incident
  6. Objective correlative
  7. Dialogue
  8. ‘Voice’
  9. Making and marking time
  10. Short cuts: Structure and editing
  11. Editing







Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning & teaching activities33seminars
Guided independent study33Study group preparation and meetings
Guided independent study70Individual seminar preparation
Guided independent study164Reading, research and essay/story preparation

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Short story1000 words2, 3,5,10Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up
Exercises in fiction writingin seminar2, 3, 7Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up
Presentations of critical readingin seminar4, 7,8,9Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Short fiction portfolio804000 words2, 3,5,10Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up
Critical and self-reflective essay202,0001,2,4,5,6,8,9, 10Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Short fiction portfolioShort fiction portfolio2, 3,5,10Referral/deferral period
Critical and self-reflective essayCritical and self-reflective essay1,2,4,5,6,8,9, 10Referral/deferral period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:

Raymond Carver, Where I’m Calling From: Selected Stories (Harvill, 1993)

Raymond Carver, Fires (Vintage, 2009)

John Cheever, Collected (Vintage 1990)

Shirley Jackson, Come Along With Me (Penguin, 2013)

Flannery O’Connor, Complete Stories (Faber, 2009)

Flannery O’Connor, Mystery and Manners (Faber, 2014)

Eudora Welty, Collected Stories of Eudora Welty (Harvard UP, 1993)

Eudora Welty, One Writer’s Beginnings (Faber/Harvard UP, 1993)


Body, Kasia, ed. The New Penguin Book of American Short Stories (Penguin, 2011)

Newland, Courttia and Hershman, Tania eds. Writing short Stories: A Writers’ & Artists’ Companion (Bloomsbury, 2015)
Prose, Francine, How to Read Like A Writer (Harper Perennial)

Module has an active ELE page?


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date


Key words search

Creative writing/American literature