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Short Stories In English, 1830-1990


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA Literary Studies, research master Literary Studies, research master Arts, Literature and Media and the two year educational master in English from ICLON.
Note: This course is intended for students from a limited number of programmes. Because of the limited capacity available for each programme, all students who will enroll are placed on a waiting list. Students in the MA program in Literary Studies will have priority. The definite admission will be made by August 25th.


This course examines short stories produced by authors writing in English from the 1830s to the very early 1980s, and in particular will explore the representation of nationality, identity, the supernatural, language, money, the family, marriage, romantic love, sexual desire, friendship and art. The course will employ an eclectic theoretical framework to contextualise the works we will discuss, from Freud to Kierkegaard, Arendt to Cavell, Weil to Benjamin. We will also investigate the generic opportunities and limitations of the short story, relate the form to its place in the literary marketplace, and will endeavour to position the works and their representation of their protagonists within their cultural and historical context. The course aims to present such genres as the literary fairy tale, the ghost story, the detective story, and the ‘literary short story’, the fable, the novella, and the tale, and to give a snapshot of the work of many of the best and most interesting writers of the period, including authors born in New Zealand, in India, in Denmark, in the USA, in Dominica, in Ireland, in Scotland, and in England.

Course objectives

  • Course objective 1
    This course will extend and deepen the power of students’ critical analysis through in-depth consideration of texts.

  • Course objective 2
    Students will explore critical debates surrounding the short story, modernity, and identity.

  • Course objective 3
    The course will aim to provide for literature students the critical skills necessary for the analysis of literary texts.

  • Course objective 4
    Regarding literary works, it will also aim to extend the students’ skills in the reading of narrative and the understanding of the relationship of a text to its historical/cultural/social context.

  • Course objective 5
    Students will be encouraged to share analytical and critical views on the texts ascribed in class discussion, perhaps including short presentations, and will focus research skills in the writing of a final research paper.

  • Course objective 6
    In their papers, the students will show that they have developed the relevant skills for researching and writing on short fiction.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

  • Research

  • the development of writing skills

Assessment method


You must submit two essays of 3200-4000 words (50% each). Both essays must contain a significant element of research.
Essays are assessed according to the following criteria: your ability to come up with a ‘thesis statement’ in relation to the topic in question, one that your essay / assignment will coherently and insightfully develop; the quality and sophistication of the central argument; the depth and appropriateness of your research; the scholarliness of your referencing and presentation; the deployment of structure; the quality of the writing; and the originality and depth of your analysis. Any student who plagiarises their work will be in trouble for doing so.
All essays will be expected on a date (to be announced) during the exam period. Late / resit essays will be graded, but will not receive any comments.
Students who are studying for the Research Master are expected to write two essays of 4000-4500 words that include additional methodological reflection and scholarly research.
Students who are studying for the MA in Education should focus at least one of their two essays on the ways in which you could apply what you have learnt in the course to the teaching of short stories in the classroom.
Attendance is compulsory, and students who do not attend very often and regularly will not have their essays graded.


Two essays of 3200-4000 words (50% each).


Resit essays can be submitted in the resit period. In exceptional circumstances, with the agreement of the tutor and the Study Co-ordinator, essays may also be submitted after that date.
If a student fails an essay, they will have the opportunity to retake it.

Inspection and feedback

Students will receive their essays back with feedback attached. Those who wish to meet afterwards to review their work may do so.
How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

Edgar Allan Poe: The Fall of the House of Usher, and Other Writings (Penguin Classics).
Michael Newton (ed.): Victorian Fairy Tales (Oxford World’s Classics).
Michael Newton (ed.): The Origins of Science Fiction (Oxford World’s Classics).
Henry James: Daisy Miller and Other Tales (ed. Stephen Fender) (Penguin Classics).
Michael Newton (ed.) The Penguin Book of Ghost Stories: From Elizabeth Gaskell to Ambrose Bierce (Penguin Classics).
Arthur Conan Doyle: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes / The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (published together in one volume by Penguin Classics).
D. H. Lawrence: Selected Stories (Penguin Classics).
Katherine Mansfield: “The Garden Party” and Other Stories (Penguin Classics).
Elizabeth Bowen: The Collected Stories (Vintage).
Izak Dinesen [Karen Blixen]: Anecdotes of Destiny (Penguin).
Jean Rhys: The Collected Short Stories (Penguin).
James Baldwin: Going to Meet the Man (Penguin Modern Classics).


Enrolment through My Studymap is mandatory.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer, dr. Michael Newton listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Arsenaal

Coordinator of studies:


For the first week of teaching please come to class having read and thought about the following stories: Edgar Allan Poe, ‘Ligeia’, ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’, ‘William Wilson’, ‘The Man of the Crowd’, ‘The Murders in the Rue Morgue’, ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’, ‘The Black Cat’, ‘The Purloined Letter’, and ‘The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar’, from The Fall of the House of Usher, and Other Writings (Penguin Classics).
There may be some adjustments, but the curriculum and schedule will go roughly as follows (a hundred stories by twenty-five writers):

  • WEEK ONE: Edgar Allan Poe, ‘Ligeia’, ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’, ‘William Wilson’, ‘The Man of the Crowd’, ‘The Murders in the Rue Morgue’, ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’, ‘The Black Cat’, ‘The Purloined Letter’, and ‘The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar’, from The Fall of the House of Usher, and Other Writings (Penguin Classics).

  • WEEK TWO: George MacDonald, ‘The Golden Key’; Dinah Craik, ‘The Little Lame Prince and His Travelling Cloak’; Mary De Morgan, ‘The Wanderings of Arasmon’; Oscar Wilde, ‘The Selfish Giant’; Laurence Housman, ‘The Story of the Three Herons’; E. Nesbit, ‘Melisande’; Rudyard Kipling, ‘Dymchurch Flit’ – from Victorian Fairy Tales (Oxford World’s Classics).

  • WEEK THREE: Nathaniel Hawthorne, ‘Rappaccini’s Daughter’; Fitz-James O’Brien, ‘The Diamond Lens’; George Eliot, ‘The Lifted Veil’; Rudyard Kipling, ‘“Wireless”’; Mary Wilkins Freeman, ‘The Hall Bedroom’; H. G. Wells, ‘The Country of the Blind’; E. M. Forster, ‘The Machine Stops’; W. E. B. DuBois, ‘The Comet’ – from The Origins of Science Fiction (Oxford World’s Classics).

  • WEEK FOUR: Henry James, ‘Daisy Miller’, ‘Madam de Mauves’, ‘An International Episode’, and ‘Fordham Castle’, in Daisy Miller and Other Tales (Penguin).

  • WEEK FIVE: Elizabeth Gaskell, ‘The Old Nurse’s Story’; Charles Dickens, ‘No. I Branch Line: The Signal-man’; Sheridan Le Fanu, ‘Green Tea’; Robert Louis Stevenson, ‘Thrawn Janet’; Margaret Oliphant, ‘The Open Door’; Rudyard Kipling, ‘At the End of the Passage’; M. R. James, ‘“Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad”’; Edith Wharton, ‘Afterward’ – in The Penguin Book of Ghost Stories: From Elizabeth Gaskell to Ambrose Bierce (Penguin Classics).

  • WEEK SIX: Arthur Conan Doyle, ‘A Scandal In Bohemia’, ‘A Case Of Identity’, ‘The Red Headed League’, ‘The Man With The Twisted Lip’, ‘The Speckled Band’, ‘The Blue Carbuncle’, ‘The Copper Beeches’, from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1892) and ‘Silver Blaze’, ‘The Greek Interpreter’, ‘The Naval Treaty’, and ‘The Final Problem’, from The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1894) (published together in Penguin Classics).

  • WEEK SEVEN: Joseph Conrad, ‘Typhoon’, ‘Amy Foster’, and ‘The Secret Sharer’ from Typhoon and Other Tales (Oxford World’s Classics).

  • WEEK EIGHT: D. H. Lawrence, ‘The White Stocking’, ‘Odour of Chrysanthemums’, ‘The Prussian Officer’, ‘England, My England’, ‘The Horse-Dealer’s Daughter’, ‘The Blind Man’, ‘The Rocking-Horse Winner’, ‘The Man Who Loved Islands’, and ‘Things’, from Selected Stories (Penguin Classics).

  • WEEK NINE: Katherine Mansfield, ‘At The Bay’, ‘The Garden Party’, ‘The Daughters of the Late Colonel’, ‘Mr and Mrs Dove’, ‘The Young Girl’, ‘Life Of Ma Parker’, ‘Marriage à la Mode’, ‘The Voyage’, and ‘Miss Brill’, from The Garden Party, and Other Stories (Penguin Classics).

  • WEEK TEN: Elizabeth Bowen, ‘The Shadowy Third’, ‘The Back Drawing Room’, ‘The Cat Jumps’, ‘Summer Night’, ‘In the Square’, ‘Sunday Afternoon’, ‘The Demon Lover’, ‘The Happy Autumn Fields’, ‘Ivy Gripped The Steps’, and ‘Mysterious Kor’, from Collected Stories (Vintage).

  • WEEK ELEVEN: Jean Rhys, ‘Vienne’, ‘Till September Petronella’, ‘The Day They Burned the Books’, ‘Let Them Call It Jazz’, ‘Tigers Are Better-Looking’, ‘On Not Shooting Sitting Birds’, ‘Sleep It Off Lady’, ‘I Used to Live Here Once’, and ‘ Invitation to the Dance’, from The Collected Short Stories (Penguin).

  • WEEK TWELVE: Izak Dinesen [Karen Blixen], Anecdotes of Destiny (Penguin).