Atlanta, GA



“Searching, Haunting, Moving, Surprising.”  One of the Most Highly Regarded Types of Artistic Expression.”

Walter Reed, Yale ’65 B.A., ’69 PhD., The William R. Kenan, Jr. University Professor and Director of the Institute for the Liberal Arts at Emory University.

Tuesday Evenings,  February 21–March 28,   7:00-8:30p.m.

Location: Emory University: Callaway Center N106

Course Description:

Story-telling is a universal human ability and accomplishment, from ancient oral epic poetry and the written narratives of the Bible to the newest productions of our visual media and the latest graphic novels.  One form of fictional narrative that has belonged both to high art and to popular entertainment over the centuries is the short story, often overlooked among the grander and more expansive genres in the academic curriculum.

Can you, in fact, remember a course you took on short fiction?  On ghost stories and detective stories? On ‘meta-fiction’?  Do you always read the new fiction in a magazine like The New Yorker, or do you concentrate on the long-form journalism that seems more respectable and serious?  Do you talk about short stories you have read with your friends?  Professor Walter Reed confesses he has not always properly valued this humble genre, but at some point in his academic career in English and Comparative Literature, he began teaching courses in “The Modern Short Story” and “The Art of Short Fiction” and realized what he and his students had been missing. Short stories are one of the oldest and most widespread forms of literature.  They also have become, in the last two centuries, one of the most highly regarded types of artistic expression.


This inaugural seminar of the new Yale Alumni College Atlanta will begin looking at the shortest examples of the genre, ancient and modern.  It will go on to consider some of the most searching, haunting, moving and surprising of the classic tales and short stories of (mostly) British and American literature from the mid-nineteenth century to the late twentieth.  And it will conclude by looking at some of the intriguing short fiction of recent decades, proposed and chosen by participants in the seminar.  The emphasis will be on discussion by members of the seminar rather than lectures by the instructor.


Come and see what the great Argentine writer, Jorge Luis Borges means when he says, “Unlike the novel, a short story may be, for all purposes, essential.


About Walter Reed

Walter Reed, in addition to his current positions, has served as Director of Emory College Center for Teaching and Curriculum, Visiting Professor of Comparative Literature at Yale, and taught English as Assistant Professor at Yale and as Associate Professor at the university of Texas at Austin.  His honors include University Scholar/Teacher Award at Emory, a Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship, and awards for teaching excellence.  He has written four published books and numerous articles and reviews.




February 21:  Short Short Stories, Old and New:  Parables, Fairy Tales, Flash Fictions (materials to be provided).

February 28:  Classic American Tales:  Poe, Hawthorne, Melville, James

March 7: Classic Modern Short Stories:  Joyce, Lawrence, Hemingway, Faulkner

March 14:  African American Perspectives:  Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, Zora Neal Hurston, James Baldwin

March 21:  Classic Contemporaries:  Flannery O’Connor, Raymond Carver, Tim        O’Brien, Alice Munro

March 28:  Best Short Stories at Present:  Nominations from the Class                                                             

Expectations:   Readings chosen primarily from The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction,ed. Richard Bausch and R. V. Cassill, Shorter Eighth Edition

75-150 pages of reading in preparation for each meeting

Active discussion among the participants, including the seminar leader

Evening class on the Emory campus, 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm

Coffee and crumpets provided