Beyond Literary Landscapes—The Short Story

From my early beginnings as a young introvert, the public library has always been a bit of a refuge.  Years later, not much has changed, albeit with an additional affinity for endless hours spent scouring second-hand bookstores to add to my ever-growing “to-read” pile.

From one bookworm to another, this column will be underscoring and outlining various literary genres, authors, and recent reads and can serve as an introduction for those unfamiliar with these works, as a refresher for long-time aficionados, and maybe as an inspiration for readers to share their own suggested topics.  Do you have a topic that you would like covered in this column?  Feel free to contact me for an interview and a feature in an upcoming column.


This week’s column focuses on introducing readers to the short story genre, as well as reminding readers of some of the genre’s classics, and as an inspiration for further reading.

The short story can be defined as “brief fictional prose narrative that is shorter than a novel and that usually deals with only a few characters.”  Unlike novels, which often deal with complex storylines, short stories may concentrate one or several scenes.

Some examples of well-known authors who have written short stories include Thomas King, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Nikolai Gogol, Shirley Jackson, and Edgar Allan Poe.  Other examples include Ernest Hemingway, Roald Dahl, Alexander Pushkin, and Leo Tolstoy.


Examples of short stories include “Borders” by Thomas King, “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, “The Overcoat” by Nikolai Gogol, “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson, and “The Fall of the House of Usher” and “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe.  Additional examples include “A Clean Well-Lighted Place” by Ernest Hemingway.


Many of these short stories are set in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Imperial Russia.


These writings are set throughout the 17, 19, and 20th-centuries or even beyond.


These particular short stories may be of interest to AU readers who would like to read more about the macabre, the curious, and the tragic.  In addition, these short stories may appeal to readers interested in social critiques.


AU’s wide range of diverse courses make it easy to study this topic in depth.  Courses related to the short story are available in a variety of disciplines, including one’s that may fit into your Degree Works.  (Always check with an AU counsellor to see if these particular courses fulfill your personal graduation requirements!)

AU students interested in learning more about this topic may enroll in ENGL 211: Prose Forms, a junior-level, three-credit course, which “examine[s] a variety of fictional works in prose .  .  .  [such as] American, British, and Canadian short stories and novels, ranging from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century.”  (No prerequisites are required for this course, although learners are encouraged to take ENGL 255:  Introductory Composition.)

Students may also be interested in ENGL 308:  Indigenous Literature in Canada, a senior-level, three-credit course, which is concerned “with the origins of Indigenous literature in the oral tradition and leads to contemporary Indigenous writing in English,” and includes various short stories.  (Note that this course requires several prerequisites, including ENGL 211: Prose Forms and ENGL 212: Poetry and Plays.)  Happy reading!