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Short Stories In English, 1830-1990


Admission requirements

A relevant BA degree. If in doubt, please contact the study adviser:ms. L.L.J. Kouters MA


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 twenty-five of the best and most interesting writers of the period, including authors born in what has been called ‘the Polish Ukraine’, 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.

Course objective 7
Students in the MA-education programme are able to reflect on the relevance of the chosen topic for the Dutch secondary classroom.


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.

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.


Resit essays can be submitted in the resit period.  In exceptional circumstances, with the agreement of the tutor and the study adviser, essays may also be submitted after that date.

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.

Attendance is compulsory, and students who do not attend very often and regularly will not have their essays graded.

If a student fails an essay, they will have the opportunity to retake it.

Insprection and Feedback

Students will receive their essays back with feedback attached. Those who wish to meet afterwards to review their work may do so.

Students who take this course as part of the Tweejarige Educatieve Master are expected to write at least one of the two required essays on a topic that they can later draw on in a secondary-school teaching context.

Research Masters students who take this course must write a third essay, also of 3200-4000 words (each essay representing 33.3% of the final grade).

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).

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).

Joseph Conrad: Typhoon, and Other Tales (Oxford World’s Classics).

D. H. Lawrence: Selected Stories (Penguin Classics).

Katherine Mansfield: “The Garden Party” and Other Stories (Penguin Classics).

Katherine Anne Porter: Pale Horse, Pale Rider: Selected Short Stories (Penguin).

Elizabeth Bowen: The Collected Stories (Vintage).

Izak Dinesen [Karen Blixen]: Anecdotes of Destiny (Penguin).

Jean Rhys: The Collected Short Stories (Penguin).

[We will also discuss the stories of Sarah Orne Jewett, but will read this through links to the original texts on]


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available on the website.

Registration Studeren à la carte en Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte.
Registration Contractonderwijs.

Not applicable.


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

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