Studies in Fiction: International Short Story

Discipline: English Literature
Instructor: Serio
Credits: 3
Day: A
Start: 14:30
End: 15:45
Field Work: Day 1 | Argentina Download Syllabus

As a form of literature, the short story is among the richest. With its sharp focus on usually one character or incident, the short story provides lasting insight and enduring enjoyment. As students voyage to Europe, Africa, and Latin America, they will read stories from countries on the itinerary that will serve as excellent portals into the lives, values, and issues facing people in those cultures. They will explore the impact local customs and mores play in defining a person’s role and position in society. Students will also learn to appreciate the short story as a distinct art form, one that gives shape to both the inner life and outer reality. They will learn to examine the various functions of setting, style, characterization, point of view, symbol, and theme as each contributes to the artistry of expression. Students will sharpen their critical thinking and writing skills through class discussion and expository essays.
Special Requirements:
Previous course(s) in literature

Field Work

Country: Argentina
Day: 1

In the morning, we will meet with Argentinian writer Mempo Giardinelli, whose recent novel, An Impossible Balance, we will have read and discussed in class beforehand (this should lead to a lively and significant exchange). Prof. Giardinelli will discuss his work with us, as well as the art of fiction in general. He will also provide a historical overview of Latin American fiction, highlighting various stages and various authors as it progressed from romanticism and naturalism in the nineteenth century to modernism and magical realism in the twentieth century. Then we will break for lunch on our own. In the afternoon, we will take a literary walking tour of Buenos Aires, focusing on one of the most renowned and influential writers in the world, Jorge Luís Borges (again, we will have read works by Borges in order to make this experience especially meaningful). The tour will be led by Professor Alejandro Frango, who teaches courses in Argentine and Latin American contemporary literature. He describes the tour this way: "The walking tour starts at the corner of Gurruchaga & Guatemala streets, the site of the mythical foundation of Buenos Aires according to Jorge Luís Borges. The walk explores Palermo and the production of Borges as a writer and his approach to the suburbs of the city of Buenos Aires and its characters. Then, we go to the Xul Solar Museum [Xul Solar is the adopted name of Oscar Solari, an artist and collaborator with Borges] to see the masterpieces of this interesting character; next, we take a subway to Café Tortoni, where we end with a general discussion about Borges and Buenos Aires."