Tuesdays and Thursdays,
I. Book List
A. Required Texts:
Carver, Raymond What We Talk About When We Talk About Love
Gill, Brendan Here at the New Yorker
Annie John Kincaid, Jamaica
Salinger, J.D. Nine Stories
Each Weekly Issue of The New Yorker (beginning with the issue for the
currentweek and continuing through the final week of class)
Anthology of New Yorker fiction and poetry: Details to be announced
B. Background and "Reserve" Texts:
Adler, RenataGone: The Last Days of The New Yorker
Corey, Mary. The World Through a Monocle: The New
Yorker at Midcentury.
Grant, Jane Ross, The New Yorker and Me
Kahn, E.J., Jr. About The New Yorker and Me
Kramer, Dale Ross and The New Yorker
Kunkel, Thomas Genius in Disguise: Harold Ross of The
Ross, Harold. Letters from the Editor: The New Yorker's Harold
Mehta, Ved. Ross, Lillian. Here But Not Here Remembering Mr. Shawn's New
Thurber, James The Years With Ross
Yagoda, BenAbout Town
C. Suggested Text:
Strunk and White The Elements of Style
II. Course Description and Objectives
The New Yorker short story probably “causes more debate, and results in more distemper, than anything else about the magazine," observes Dale Kramer in Ross and The New Yorker. One of the major reasons for this debate is the denial by many (among them New Yorker editors and staff members through the years) of the existence of "a New Yorker story." In this seminar we will read and discuss stories and poems by writers from each of these categories: (1) those whose work has appeared regularly in the magazine and who are by reputation New Yorker writers, (2) those who have published stories or poems in The New Yorker but who are not known as New Yorker writers, and (3) writers who publish regularly in the magazine but whose stories or poems seem at first glance odd choices for the magazine given its audience. Against these three groups we will place the fiction writers and poets whose work happens to appear in the current issues of The New Yorker during the semester. One major objective will be to determine if there is such a thing as "a New Yorker story" (or poem) and if it makes sense (particularly in light of recent and obvious changes in the magazine) to talk about The New Yorker school of fiction; in much the same way, we will also examine whether there is a New Yorker school of poetry, reading and discussing poems published in the magazine from 1925 to the present.In the course of the semester we will also be examining historical details about the magazine, including the editorial principles upon which Harold Ross founded it in 1925 and the degree to which William Shawn carried Ross's vision into the 1980's.
A. Assigned readings, including short stories, poems, and background readings.
Participation in seminar discussions of readings and Blackboard postings.5% of grade.
B. 10-minute report, historical and anecdotal. 10% of grade (5% for the presentation, 5% for the short written report).Paper is due two weeks after you have given your oral report.
C. Bibliography and Prefatory Note. 15% of grade.
D. A 15-20- minute oral report on your work in progress as your research develops on the author you have chosen (for C above and for your final paper). Not graded, since results will show up in your final paper.
E. Final paper: a paper of approximately 20 pages in which you explore an original thesis about the short fiction of the author you have chosen. 70% of course grade.
IV. Expanded Notes on the Assignments
A.Seminar Participation. 5% of course grade.In addition to the readings and seminar discussions, you are to post a minimum of five substantive responses to questions and topics that I will post on Blackboard.
B.Historical/Anecdotal Talk and Paper: 10% of course grade. This talk is designed to acquaint the class with some item related to The New Yorker--generally historical and generally from the years with Ross and Shawn. A list of possibilities will be given to you, and each of you will select one of them. You will turn in a written paper that grows out of this report (three or so pages, with bibliography). I expect this to be one of the most enjoyable parts of the research that you willdo in the course. The work you will do will fill in gaps for other members of theseminar. In the talk itself, be sure that you focus your topic sharply enough thatyou can present it in a ten-minute report. Create a context for your topic for theclass and clearly organize the material that youpresent. Your paper will give you a chance to crystallize your ideas and perhaps elaborate on things you were not able to present in class. Document your paper, using footnotes and abibliography.
C. Bibliography and Prefatory Bibliographical Note: 15% of course grade.Select the New Yorker author you wish to study in detail. Do a job as thorough as possible of compiling a bibliography which has the following headings: (1) Novels by (2) Poems by (3) Essays by (4) Short Stories by (annotated to include, when possible, subsequent reprintings of each story) (5) Books about (6) Articles about. This will ultimately be the bibliography for your end-of-term paper. The bibliography is due two weeks before end of the semester with first draft of final paper.The purpose of the bibliography and note is to acquaint the reader with the number and kinds of writings by the author and with the amount of critical work that has been done on the author. I recognize several variables that will affect the completeness of your bibliography, and ask only (or mainly) that you demonstrate in it an honest attempt to explore the resources available. If a bibliography (book-length) is available, list it in your own bibliography and describe its strengths and weaknesses. Is it outdated, for example? Does it seem complete based on your own spot checking of a few of its entries? If there are useful selected bibliographies contained in other books, list them. On the other hand, if there appears to be no bibliography available for your author (available to you, anyhow), your own bibliography will include only those things that you have been able to locate yourself. If this is the case, be sure to say so in your note. In any case, do the following in your bibliography:
1. Avoid duplicating someone else's bibliography. Simply refer the reader to it.
2. Place an asterisk by those works that you actually consulted, leaving withoutan
asterisk those works you know of only second-hand.
3. Include a bibliographical note (probably before the bibliography proper) which
describes the procedures you followed and the problems you encountered in
researching your author. Don't overdo this note: your efforts will usuallyshow.
4. Follow the MLA or Chicago Style consistently in your entries.
5. We will discuss documentation of electronic resources in class.
D. 15-20 Minute Oral Report: This report should have two purposes: to acquaint the class with your author (through giving bibliographical details) and to introduce the class to the author through a close analysis and discussion of one of his or her works. To accomplish this last purpose you should select a New Yorker story or poem by your author. We will arrange for copies of it to be available to everyone one week before your report. Everyone will read the story or poem, and you will briefly introduce us to the author's themes, style, etc. through comments about the specific work. Here the object is to have you give other seminar members benefit of your research on the author you have chosen to work with, using a specific story or poem by that author.In each case, everyone will receive a copy of the work that you will use and read it before the class during which you are to lead the discussion.
E.Final Paper.70% percent of course grade.I would like for you somehow to relate your thesis to The New Yorker even if this means that you will simply restrict your discussion to the author's New Yorker stories (or poems); or you will, perhaps, want to compare The New Yorker stories with stories from other magazines. If all this fails, see me. Some of you have spoken to me about modifying this final paper to focus on poetry rather than short fiction.This will be fine (and I’ve built in that option in the preceding descriptions).We will discuss this in more detail in class.While the main focus of our concern is with the New Yorker school of fiction, this focus by one or more of you on the poetry will add a rich dimension to our course. A rough draft of the paper will be due approximately two weeks before the end of class.I will read the drafts and return them.Then the final paper will be due on the final day of class. .You are free to choose any writer who has published a story (or poem) in The New Yorker as a subject for your research. Some authors will be better suited to this study than others. For example, the more "contemporary" an author, the less likely you are to have to pour through volumes of criticism, etc.--not to mention the greater likelihood that you will be able to "break new ground" with your study. Above all, select a writer you care about.
As you write the paper you might want to keep the things below in mind. I know that many of the questions and comments address issues with which you are thoroughly familiar. I want to underline here my own feeling that they are the foundation of a good paper. The grade that you receive on the paper will be based primarily on how well your paper demonstrates your concern with the basic principles below.
1. Is the paper unified by a central thesis, and does it develop the thesis in
well-organized, fully developed paragraphs?
2. Is the thesis original? Is it provocative? Does it make the reader want to see
3. Is the paper coherent? Does it flow smoothly from one idea to the next, from
one sentence to the next, from paragraph to paragraph? Are its conclusions
4. Area the ideas supported with concrete details from the texts of the author's
5. Are ideas from outside sources properly and fully documented using the
MLAstyle or the
style consistently? Chicago
6. Does the paper conform to accepted rules of grammar, usage, etc. set forth in
theStrunk and White.