Short Story

Course Details

Course Number
Section Number
Fall 2012
Bea Wood Hall
Classroom Number
Days & Times

9:00-9:50 MWF

Dr. Todd Giles (view Profile)


The Norton Anthology of Contemporary Fiction
Sherman Alexi, The Toughest Indian in the World
John Barth, Lost in the Fun House
Donald Barthelme, Forty Stories
Sandra Cisneros, Woman Hollering Creek and Other
Philip Roth, Goodbye, Columbus
George Saunders, Pastoralia

Course Objectives


Once upon a time there was a contemporary American short story class which forced its characters to rethink what the story genre could and should do. Sometimes the characters weren't actually characters at all and the plot rarely showed up to class. And one time the denoument got into such a heated rising action with the setting that the dialogue and points of view walked right off the page, forcing your first person narrator to reign in the climax with a rather antagonistic tone. And what's the moral of the story, dear reader? This ain't your mama's short story class.    

Additional information about course objectives can be found on the department webpage,



Course Expectations

You will write frequently in 3293, both in and out of the classroom. In-class writings will include quizzes and various other responses to prompts on topics relevant to that day’s readings or things recently covered. These writing activities will be graded on a plus/check/minus scale: a plus for doing a thorough job (100%), a check for completing the work in an acceptable fashion (70%), and a minus for not completing the work or for obvious lack of effort (0%). Some assignments, depending on length and difficulty, will count for more than one daily grade. You cannot make up in-class writing or homework. This portion of your course work can easily make or break your overall grade, so be sure to keep up with the daily work.

For each class period we have reading you need to come to class with the following (handwritten):

  • Two specific questions per author (on days we read more than one author) about that day’s reading.
  • One question or point for discussion comparing that day’s author(s) with someone else we have read.
  • Two specific points for discussion (about specific aspects of the poems/stories, the author’s style, goals, etc., or how that author relates to/differs from her period or from other authors, and so forth. Basically, things YOU want to talk about).

I will pick these up randomly at the beginning of selected classes—some days I will, some days I won’t. When I do, they will count for a daily writing grade.

To succeed on your daily writing you must show that you’ve closely read, have at least a cursory understanding of the material, and address, to the best of your ability, the writing prompts. I do not expect you to remember exact quotations, but examples from the work always help get the point across. It is also good to try to tie in any relevant terminology or critical concepts from class discussions. In-class writing assignments are generally given at the beginning of class. Keep up with the readings, take good class notes, review them before the next class period, and you will do fine.

Read the assigned material by the date listed on the schedule of readings. As you read, take notes and underline/highlight what you believe are key passages in the text (a climactic scene, crucial lines for understanding the work, a summary of the argument, etc.), or things you have trouble understanding. Come to each class with comments and questions!

Grading Standards


Assignment                                                  % of Grade

Daily Writing/Homework/Participation     20%

Creative Episode Paper                             10% 

Annotated Bibliography                               20%

Proposal                                                        15%         

Final Paper                                                     25%

Final Exam/Presentation                             10%         


In this class, the following numerical equivalents for final grades are used: A = 100-90%; B = 89-80%; C = 79-70%; D = 69-60%; F = 59-0%.


Plagiarism Policy

Plagiarism is the use of someone else’s thoughts, words, ideas, or lines of argument in your own work without appropriate documentation (a parenthetical citation at the end and a listing in "Works Cited")–whether you use that material in a quotation, paraphrase, or summary. It is a theft of intellectual property and will not be tolerated, whether intentional or not. I have a zero tolerance for any type of plagiarism. All incidents of plagiarism will be penalized (the paper will receive an automatic F), reported, and kept on file. The second incident of plagiarism in class by the same student will result in the student receiving an F for the course.

Final Exam

12/10/2012 8:00-10:00 a.m.

Submission Format Policy

All out-of-class assignments must be typed in Times New Roman 12-point black font with one inch margins using MLA format.

By enrolling in this class, the student expressly grants MSU a “limited right” in all intellectual property created by the student for the purpose of this course.  The “limited right” shall include but shall not be limited to the right to reproduce the student’s work product in order to verify originality and authenticity, and for educational purposes.

Note: You may not submit a paper for a grade in this class that already has been (or will be) submitted for a grade in another course, unless you obtain the explicit written permission of me and the other instructor involved in advance.


Note: You may not submit a paper for a grade in this class that already has been (or will be) submitted for a grade in another course, unless you obtain the explicit written permission of me and the other instructor involved in advance.

Late Paper Policy

Unless arrangements are made in advance for extenuating circumstances, you will automatically lose a letter grade for each day a paper is late, including weekends. A paper that is more than a week late will automatically receive an F, regardless of the quality of work. You will not be able to make up daily work and there is no extra credit.


Plagiarism Policy

Plagiarism is the use of someone else's thoughts, words, ideas, or lines of argument in your own work without appropriate documentation (a parenthetical citation at the end and a listing in "Works Cited")-whether you use that material in a quote, paraphrase, or summary. It is a theft of intellectual property and will not be tolerated, whether intentional or not.

Student Honor Creed

As an MSU Student, I pledge not to lie, cheat, steal, or help anyone else do so."

As students at MSU, we recognize that any great society must be composed of empowered, responsible citizens. We also recognize universities play an important role in helping mold these responsible citizens. We believe students themselves play an important part in developing responsible citizenship by maintaining a community where integrity and honorable character are the norm, not the exception.

Thus, We, the Students of Midwestern State University, resolve to uphold the honor of the University by affirming our commitment to complete academic honesty. We resolve not only to be honest but also to hold our peers accountable for complete honesty in all university matters.

We consider it dishonest to ask for, give, or receive help in examinations or quizzes, to use any unauthorized material in examinations, or to present, as one's own, work or ideas which are not entirely one's own. We recognize that any instructor has the right to expect that all student work is honest, original work. We accept and acknowledge that responsibility for lying, cheating, stealing, plagiarism, and other forms of academic dishonesty fundamentally rests within each individual student.

We expect of ourselves academic integrity, personal professionalism, and ethical character. We appreciate steps taken by University officials to protect the honor of the University against any who would disgrace the MSU student body by violating the spirit of this creed.

Written and adopted by the 2002-2003 MSU Student Senate.

Students with Disabilities

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please contact the Disability Support Services in Room 168 of the Clark Student Center, (940) 397-4140.

Safe Zones Statement

The professor considers this classroom to be a place where you will be treated with respect as a human being - regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, political beliefs, age, or ability. Additionally, diversity of thought is appreciated and encouraged, provided you can agree to disagree. It is the professor's expectation that ALL students consider the classroom a safe environment.

Contacting your Instructor

All instructors in the Department have voicemail in their offices and MWSU e-mail addresses. Make sure you add your instructor's phone number and e-mail address to both email and cell phone lists of contacts.

Attendance Requirements

Because this is a writing and discussion course and the work we do in class is designed to help you understand the reading and improve your writing skills, you must attend class to do well. Although I do not take daily role, your in-class writing and participation grades should ensure your attendance and preparedness. By not attending regularly you will not understand the critical terminology and concepts necessary to successfully complete the daily writing assignments and larger papers. You are in college; come to class.


Other Policies

Cell phones, laptops, and other electronic devises must be turned off during class. If a student is caught using an electronic device during a quiz or test they will receive a zero on it. Other disruptive behavior, including coming in late on a regular basis, chatting with classmates during class discussion or tests, sleeping, or any other behavior not conducive to a mature learning environment, will first receive a warning; if the behavior continues, an instructor drop will be initiated.

Use staples, not paper clips, binder clips, or dog ears.

Assignments will not be accepted by email or on disk (although I will happily look at email drafts).

If you can't make it to class on the day a major assignment it due, email me in advance and hand it in either during my office hours or into the main English office (216 Bea Wood Hall) by 5:00 the day the paper is due to avoid losing a letter grade for a late paper.

Writing Proficiency Requirement

All students seeking a Bachelor's degree from Midwestern State University must satisfy a writing proficiency requirement once they've 1) passed the 6 hours of Communication Core and and 2) earned 60 hours. You may meet this requirement by passing either the Writing Proficiency Exam or English 2113. Please keep in mind that, once you've earned over 90 hours, you lose the opportunity to take the $25 exam and have no option but to enroll in the three-credit hour course. If you have any questions about the exam, visit the Writing Proficiency Office website at, or call 397-4131.

>Calendar Attachment

Campus Carry

Senate Bill 11 passed by the 84th Texas Legislature allows licensed handgun holders to carry concealed handguns on campus, effective August 1, 2016. Areas excluded from concealed carry are appropriately marked, in accordance with state law. For more information regarding campus carry, please refer to the University’s webpage at

If you have questions or concerns, please contact MSU Chief of Police Patrick Coggins at