Reading the Short Story

A Student’s Guide to Selected British, Irish and American Works

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About the Book

Beginning with a brief history and evolution of the short story genre, alongside an overview of the key short story writers, and an explanatory chapter of literary criticism, this book aims to give readers insight into the works by canonical British, Irish, and American authors, including Edgar Allan Poe, James Joyce, Flannery O’Connor, and more. Applying close reading skills and critical literary approaches to twelve selected short stories in English, this work conducts comparative analyses to reveal the interrelationships between the texts, the authors, the readers, and the sociocultural contexts. Developed and tested in literature classes at university over several semesters, this book addresses key issues, topics and trends in the short story genre.

About the Author(s)

Anna Wing-bo Tso is an associate professor who has over ten years of English teaching experience at various universities in Hong Kong, where she directs the Research Institute for Digital Culture and Humanities and heads the Master of Arts in Applied English Linguistics. She has published widely on literacies, children’s literature, and language education in refereed books and peer-reviewed journals across Asia, Europe, the U.K., the U.S., Canada and Australia.
Scarlett Lee is an English teacher and Cambridge English examiner in Rome. She works as a freelance literary critic.

Bibliographic Details

Anna Wing Bo Tso and Scarlett Lee
Foreword by Andrew Parkin
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 205
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2019
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7398-1
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3724-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments (Anna Wing-bo Tso) vi
Foreword (Andrew Parkin) 1
Preface 3
Part I
Short Stories: Genre and Literary Criticism
1. A Brief History of the Short Story as a Literary Genre 7
2. Practical Literary Criticism 40
Part II
Close Reading for Short Stories
3. Religion and Redemption in ­O’Connor’s “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” 59
4. Consumerism, Alienation and Digital Dystopia in Bradbury’s “The Veldt” 72
5. Masculinity and Sexuality in Proulx’s “Brokeback Mountain” 85
6. Fantasy and Fan Fiction in Gaiman’s “The Problem of Susan” 98
Part III
Literary and Comparative Analyses of Short Stories
7. Psychoanalysis and the Gothic in Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” and Stevenson’s “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” 113
8. Irony and Paralysis in Joyce’s “Grace” and Trevor’s
“Of the Cloth” 136
9. Civil Rights and Prejudice in Walker’s “Everyday Use”
and Smith’s “The Embassy of Cambodia” 154
10. Femininity and Social Pressures in Lessing’s “To Room
Nineteen” and Gilman’s “The Yellow ­Wall-Paper” 174
Afterword 190
Index 193