International Short Story

Discipline: Special Topics in Literature
Instructor: Serio
Credits: 3
Day: A
Start: 1550
End: 1710
Field Work: Day 1 - Ho Chi Minh City - 14 February | Vietnam Download Syllabus

As a form of literature, the short story is among the richest. With its sharp focus, usually on one character or incident, the short story provides lasting insight and enduring enjoyment. As we voyage around the world, we will read stories from different countries that will serve as excellent portals into the lives, interrelationships, and issues facing local inhabitants. We will explore the social, political, religious, and economic forces at work in the respective cultures and the impact local customs have in defining people’s position and role in society. These stories, often by internationally acclaimed authors, will represent as many countries on our voyage as possible. We will approach the short story as a distinct art form, one that gives shape both to the inner life and to the 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.

Field Work

Country: Vietnam
Day: 1 - Ho Chi Minh City - 14 February

Having learned about the Vietnam War through class readings from the American perspective, students in this 8-hour Field Lab will experience firsthand aspects of the conflict from a Vietnamese perspective. They will travel to an immense matrix of underground tunnels in Củ Chi, located about 25 miles northwest of the former Saigon. This network of mostly hand-dug tunnels—estimated to cover nearly 150 miles and to stretch from Saigon to the Cambodian border—served as a base for Viet Cong operations in the South. Besides concealing guerrilla fighters, the tunnels contained supply routes for weapons, food, and medicines. The tunnels severed as staging areas for strategic attacks, such as the Tet Offensive of 1968, against American and South Vietnamese forces. Students will learn about the unbearable conditions the Viet Cong had to endure in order to survive under these conditions, and they will gain a profound understanding of the ingenuity and unstoppable determination of the Viet Cong. Academic Objectives:

  1. To enhance the literary accounts we have read in class of the Vietnam conflict with actual, personal experience
  2. To reflect on the Vietnam War from both the Vietnamese and American perspectives
  3. To develop a cogent and critical response in an essay to the literature about the Vietnam War we have read