ENGL412-24S1 (C) Semester One 2024

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

30 points

Start Date: Monday, 19 February 2024
End Date: Sunday, 23 June 2024
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 3 March 2024
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 12 May 2024


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


Subject to approval of the Head of Department.

Timetable 2024

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Lecture A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Tuesday 13:00 - 15:00 Rehua 429
19 Feb - 31 Mar
22 Apr - 2 Jun
Lecture B
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Thursday 15:00 - 17:00 Jack Erskine 240
19 Feb - 31 Mar
29 Apr - 2 Jun

Course Coordinator / Lecturers

Nicholas Wright and Henrietta Mondry

Course Coordinator

Nicholas Wright


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Essay One 30% 4000 words. Due before the start of term 2.
Essay Two 30% 4000 words. Due at the end of term 2.
Seminar One 15% Due in Term 1 (Usually in the term's final week)
Seminar Two 15% Due in Term 2 (usually in the term's final week)
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 $2,046.00

* 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.

Minimum enrolments

This course will not be offered if fewer than 5 people apply to enrol.

For further information see Humanities .

All ENGL412 Occurrences

  • ENGL412-24S1 (C) Semester One 2024