ENGL412-21S1 (C) Semester One 2021

'A Small Good Thing': The Short Story in the Old World and the New

30 points

Start Date: Monday, 22 February 2021
End Date: Sunday, 27 June 2021
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 7 March 2021
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Friday, 14 May 2021


The first theorist of the short story, Edgar Allan Poe, famously defined the form as something one might peruse at a single sitting. Like a poem, thought Poe, the story ought to achieve a 'unity of effect or impression', a kind of transient but intense excitement. Henry James saw in the form's brevity the 'science of control'; and while some readers enthused about the form's commitment to the moment, the event, the epiphany, others saw only a symptom of cultural fragmentation. This course examines the history and characteristics of the short story as it has been developed in the European and American traditions. More specifically, the course focuses on the relationship of the short story to some of the most persuasive ideas of modernity. Students will have an opportunity to read and place in context such greats of the form as Anton Chekov, Mark Twain, Nikolai Gogol, Poe, Flannery O'Connor, Ernest Hemingway, Raymond Carver, Alice Munro and David Foster Wallace. As the course progresses we will make our way through movements such as romanticism, modernism and postmodernism - all of which define themselves in relation to modernity - concluding with a selection of some of the most exciting new writers working in America.

Learning Outcomes

  • Learning Outcomes
  • To advance the research and oral communication skills of students
  • To develop skills in textual and contextual reading and writing
  • To historicise the development of the short story form in Europe and America
  • To further students’ engagement with some of the major writers in the literature of Europe and America
  • To encourage independent, critical thinking and research
    • University Graduate Attributes

      This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:

      Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award

      Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.

      Employable, innovative and enterprising

      Students will develop key skills and attributes sought by employers that can be used in a range of applications.

      Globally aware

      Students will comprehend the influence of global conditions on their discipline and will be competent in engaging with global and multi-cultural contexts.


Subject to approval of the Head of Department.

Timetable 2021

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Lecture A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Tuesday 10:00 - 12:00 Karl Popper 413
22 Feb - 4 Apr
26 Apr - 6 Jun
Lecture B
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Thursday 12:00 - 14:00 Rehua 005
22 Feb - 4 Apr
26 Apr - 6 Jun

Course Coordinator / Lecturers

Nicholas Wright and Henrietta Mondry

Course Coordinator

Nicholas Wright


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Essay 1 30% 4,000 words
Essay 2 30% 4,000 words
Seminar 1 15%
Seminar 2 15%
Evidence of preparation and class participation 10%

Textbooks / Resources

The recommended text for this course is 'The Short Story and Its Writer' (9th or 10th edition) by Anne Charters.

(NB. Most of the stories covered in the course can be found in this book. As UBS doesn't stock this title students are advised to source a copy for themselves.)

(Image: "Edgar Allan Poe", licensed under public domain.)

Course links

Library portal

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $1,905.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see Humanities and Creative Arts .

All ENGL412 Occurrences

  • ENGL412-21S1 (C) Semester One 2021