Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Century of American Short Stories

Starting September 13th, Philip Weinstein, Professor of English at Swarthmore College and part-time resident in Aquinnah, will lead a reading and discussion series at Island Libraries on the American Story Story. Beginning with Ernest Hemingway's In Our Time (1925) and concluding with Elizabeth Strout's Olive Kittredge (2008), this course explores a range of American short stories. We will devote a week apiece to each of four writers. Our goal is not to sample the huge output in this genre, but to delve more deeply into these writers' concerns and literary procedures and to identify the characteristic voice of each.

Dates, Locations and Texts:
  • Old Aquinnah Town Hall, September 13th (5-6:30 p.m.): Ernest Hemingway, In Our Time
  • Chilmark Free Public Library, September 26th (5-6:30 p.m.): Flannery O'Connor, The Collected Stories (selections)
  • Vineyard Haven Public Library, November 20th (7-8:30 p.m.): Raymond Carver, Cathedral
  • Edgartown Public Library, December 5th (7-8:30 p.m.): Elizabeth Strout, Olive Kittredge
Major topics:

* What insights into multifaceted modern America does a study of four writers (from the 1920s into the new century) provide us?

* An encounter with nature recurs as an abiding dimension of several of our writers' work. What larger (and differing) meanings about America does this encounter take on?

* What are the strengths and limits of the short story as a literary form? In what ways do the books by Hemingway, Carver, and Strout seem to aim for novelistic form (by way of short stories)?

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