On Short Stories Hibbard English 2030 Topics: Paper 1 Length: Approximately 1200 words (usually 4-5 pages double-spaced) Overview: The

On Short Stories Hibbard
English 2030
Topics: Paper 1

Length: Approximately 1200 words (usually 4-5 pages double-spaced)


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English 2030
Topics: Paper 1

Length: Approximately 1200 words (usually 4-5 pages double-spaced)

These essays are meant to give you a chance (force you!) to explore in more depth
issues and themes arising from our reading in the short story unit. I’ll supply you with
further guidelines, pointers, and share with you a rubric that will guide my evaluation of
your work. Following is a list of possible topics. If you think of topics not listed, run

1. What makes for a good story?
Think over the stories we’ve read. Which do you think work best and why? In your
essay address those qualities of a good story, using examples as you see fit. You may
wish to consider issues such as theme or content, development, character, language, form,
point of view, irony, etc. I’ll be interested in what you come up with. There’s no one
right response here.

2. We began the short story unit with a cluster of very short stories which exemplify the
principle of economy and compression. Something is packed into a tight space. Write
an essay in which you explore the central features of these short forms, using examples
from our readings. Do they depend on a turn of some sort, compression of time, an
image? You may wish to compare/contrast these very short stories to longer ones we
have read, in order to demonstrate your points.

3. As we read, we often want to be taken somewhere we haven’t been before, gain
deeper understanding, or be given a new perspective on things. Think back over your
experiences in this unit. Have there been times when you learned new things, or saw
things differently as a result of your reading? What, specifically, were those times?
Write an essay in which you describe those most luminous discoveries, drawing upon
stories that provided moments of revelation.

4. We begin in one place. We end in another. Just as in life, stories can sometimes be
thought of as inscribing journeys. There are journeys within the work as well as journeys
we take as readers as we come to know the work. Write an essay in which you reflect on
and analyze the journeys within at least three stories. Use specific examples to
demonstrate your points. (Think, for instance, about “Famine,” “Wild Swans,” and “A
Good Man is Hard to Find.”)

5. The stories in this unit touch upon a wide array of themes—e.g., death, love,
marriage, sin/evil, prejudice, and cultural difference. Choose ONE of these themes and
develop a discussion of how relevant writers/works (try for at least three) address the
issue. What kind of light do these works shed on the matter?

6. Writers (like musicians, artists, and filmmakers) develop their own distinctive
signatures or styles. We see this particularly as we read more than one story by Flannery
O’Connor and Dagoberto Gilb. Write an essay that discusses and analyzes the distinctive
qualities of either of the two (O’Connor and Gilb), or take a comparativist approach to
the two.

7. Develop an essay that explores the way one of the following elements figures in at
least three stories from the unit:
a) titles
b). twists, turns or surprises
c) settings
d) gender
e) writing style/language
f) endings

8. Creative Option! (You may choose the creative option for just ONE paper during the
semester): Write a short story of from 1000-1500 words.

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