Reading the United States: Modern America Through its Short Stories


Course Description

This course will take place on Zoom.

Does reading a country’s literature give us insight into understanding its people? We examined this question last year by looking at American short stories from the 19th and early 20th centuries. With a similar focus, this course will consider those from the 1940s to the present. Among the questions we will address are: Is there a compelling vision of America and Americans evoked in these tales? If so, how does the short story dramatize it? Through style, language, setting, characterization? Are these stories and their insights into America time-bound or do they transcend the moment in which they were written? Might this literature shed light on the American people, even now?

The core text will be Joyce Carol Oates’s The Oxford Book of American Short Stories, supplemented by additional readings selected from a variety of well- and lesser-known authors, including Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Bernard Malamud, Tillie Olsen, Ha Jin, Junot Díaz, Edwidge Danticat, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Gish Jen.

Books to Purchase (will be available at Argo Bookshop during the weeks prior to the course beginning):

    • The Oxford Book of American Short Stories, 2nd ed. Edited by Joyce Carol Oates (2012). ISBN: 978-0199744398

This course is full; to add yourself to the waitlist, email or call (514) 935-9585. Should vacancies develop, those on the waiting list will be contacted on a first-come, first-served basis.

Course Details

First Session: Thursday 23 September 2021

Course Length: 10 weeks, Thursdays, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.

Discussion Team: Zsolt Alapi, Anne Fitzpatrick, Michael Tritt 

Degree Credit: 3.0 credits (students interested in 3 credits for this course will be given supplemental work)

Course Fees: 

$140.00 (standard tuition)
$95.00 (promotion for new students)

Administrative Fee:



$175.00 (standard tuition)
$130.00 (promotion for new students)

Course fees are refundable in full before the second session. After the second session, a fee of $50 for the withdrawal will be applied. Refunds will not be issued after the third session. Please note that non-attendance does not constitute a withdrawal.

Students pursuing studies for credit are encouraged to consult with their advisers as they register for courses.

Course leaders, and students wishing to use credit vouchers, should call (514) 935-9585 to pay by phone or to schedule an appointment to pay in person.

Questions? Stuck? Give us a call at (514) 935-9585
or email us at