EN: 602, Language of Short Stories
Course web page: http://course1.winona.edu/hshi

Prof. Shi/ Minne 331
Phone: 457-2375 Email number: Hshi@winona.edu
Office Hours: 3:00 to 4:00 M, 9:30 to 12:30 W, 10:30 to 12:30, 2:00-2:30 T&Th

Course description

This is a course on linguistic analysis of fiction involving a close reading of twentieth century short stories. Particular attention will be paid to detailing the construction of texts within the bounds of core linguistics such as syntax and semantics as well as within pragmatic and social dimensions. The ultimate goal is to discover how literary criticism may ground its interpretations on objective features of the language of texts.

Course objectives

By the end of the course you should be able to bring precise analytical methods to the understanding of texts, not only short stories but also a wide variety of genres. You should be able to delve beneath the surface of a text (what is said) to find and construct the cognitive, social, and linguistic meanings--the consequential assumptions, perspectives and attitudes--embedded in them.

Course Requirements

• Weekly assignments, some written, some oral
• Three short (2-3 page) papers and a 6 to 8-page term paper analyzing some aspect of the language of a short story of your choice
• Leading discussion of short stories (Each of you will lead at least one class discussion of short stories. Make sure you include the following:
      Some background information of the story and the author
      Important elements in the story
      The significance of the story
      How language works in the story and why it works in such a way

• Class participation (This is a graduate couse,  so your participation in class discussion is required. We will begin each class with your questions, insights, or other reflections on the reading for the week. Please be prepared.)

Grading Policy    Will use letter grades for all assignments, oral and written.

Required Readings


Charters, A. (Ed.) (2003). The story and its writer: An introduction to short fiction, (compact 6th         edition). Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's. (Referred as C in course outline)

Fowler, R. (1996). Linguistic Criticism (2nd ed.) New York: Oxford University Press. (Referred as F in course outline)

Articles: More to be added; referred as R in course outline) Copies of these articles will be           provided.

Carter, R. (1982). Style and interpretation in Hemingway’s “Cat in the rain.” In R. Carter (Ed.), Language and    Literature: An Introductory Reader in Stylistics (pp. 63-80). London: Allen and Unwin.

Enkvist, N. (1989). Styles as parameters in text strategy. In W. van Peer (Ed.), The Taming of the Text: Explorations in

          Language, Literature and Culture (pp. 125-151). London/NY: Routledge.

Kennedy, C. (1982). Systemic grammar and its use in literary analysis. In R. Carter (Ed.), Language and Literature: An Introductory      
          Reader in Stylistics (pp. 83-99). London: Allen and Unwin,

Mason, M. (1982) Deixis: A point of entry to Little Dorrit. In R. Carter (Ed.), Language and Literature:   An Introductory Reader

           in Stylistics (pp. 29-38). London: Allen and Unwin,

O'Grady, W. (2001). Language: A preview. In W. O'Grady, M. Dobrovolsky, & M. Aronoff (Eds.) Contemporary Linguistics: An
         Introduction (4th ed.) (pp.1-4). NY: St. Martin's.

O'Grady, W. (2001) Semantics: The analysis of meaning. In W. O'Grady, M, Dobrovolsky, & M. Aronoff (Eds). Contemporary 
         Linguistics: An Introduction (4th ed.), (pp. 245-288). NY: St. Martin's.

Pinker, S. (1994). How language works: The Language Instinct, Chapter 4). NY: W. Morrow.

Rivkin, R., & Ryan M. (Ed.) (1998). Introduction: Formalisms. In R. Rivkin, & M. Ryan, Literary Theory: An anthology (pp. 3-7).

Toolan, M. (1996). Modality and attitude. In Toolan (Ed.), Language in literature: An introduction to stylistics (pp.46-74). New

          York . Oxford UP.

Traugott, E. C. (1980). In fiction, whose speech, whose vision? In R. S. Wheeler (Ed), Language Alive in the Classroom (pp. 167-

         177). Westport, CN: Praeger.

Course outline (Assignments due on the date they are listed, and changes are to be expected.)

Week One 1-17 No class, Martin Luther King Holiday

Week Two 1-24 Introduction

R. O’Grady, Chapter One, Elements in linguistics
C. Elements in fiction, p. 1003
F. Chapter 1, Introduction; Elements in linguistic criticism
R. Rivkin, literary criticism: Formalism

C. Atwood, “Happy Endings”
C. Atwood, “reading blind” P. 843

Discussion leader: __________________

Week Three 1-31 “Habitualization and Defamiliazation”

F. Chapters 3, 4
C. Jackson, “the lottery” and related commentary, p. 884
C. Lawrence, The Rocking-Horse Winner, p. 481

Discussion leader: Brandon

Discuss the first short paper: habitualization and defamilization

Week Four 2-7 Semantics

R. O G’rady, Semantics: the analysis of meaning
C. Thurber, “The secret of life of Walter Mitty”
C. Cisneros “The house on Mango Street”
R. Kennedy, Systemic grammar and its use in literary analysis
F. Chapters 2, 11

Discussion leader:  Chris

Week Five  2-14 Syntax: words and phrases

R. O’Grady, Syntax: the analysis of sentence structure
C. Joyce “Araby”
C. Chopin, "The story of an hour"

Discussion leader:   Erik

Week Seven 2-28 Syntax: clauses and sentences
R. Pinker: How language works
C. Poe, “The cast of Anontillado” and related commentaries
C. Faulkner, “Rose for Emily” and related commentary

Discussion leader:  Carla

Short paper on habitualization and defamiliarization due

Week Eight   3-7 Textual structure: cohesion
F. Chapter 5
C. Banbara, “the lesson”
C. Munro, Family furnishings and related commentary
C. Baldwin, “Sonny’s blue” and related commentary

Discussion Leader:  Pam


Practice text analysis
Hemingway, “Cat in the rain” (please locate and read the story)
R. Carter, Style and interpretation in Hemingway’s “Cat in the Rain.”

Discussion leader of Cat in the rain:  Ann

Disuss the second short paper on syntax and text

Week Nine    3-14   Spring Break

Week Ten    3- 21 Dialogue structure
C. Hemingway, “Hills like white elephants”
C. Carver, “What we talk about when we talk about love” and related casebook that follows.
F. Chapter 8

Discussion leader:  Jennifer

Discuss the third paper on any aspect of your choice

Week Eleven   3-28 Text and context: perspectives of person, places and time (diexis)

C. Wright, “the man who was almost a man” and related commentary
C. Updike “A & P” and the related commentary
F. Chapter 7
R. Traugott, “In fiction, whose speech?”
R. Mason, “Deixis: a point of entry to Little Dorrit” (Read the opening of Little Dorrit)\

Discussion leader: Gabriel

Week Twelve   4-4   Point of view, tense and time flow
C. Erdrich, “The red convertible”
Carter, “The company of wolves” (please find this story.)
F. Chapter 9
R. Enkvist, “Style as parameters”

Discussion leade:  Lisa

Third short paper due

Week Thirteen  4-11 Presenting ideas for the term paper
Term paper topic: A linguistic analysis of a short story
Should we anchor our interpretative and evaluative commentaries of literature in language? If so, what are the linguistic values? Please illustrate your point with a linguistic analysis of a short story of your choice.

Steps to a systematic analysis
• Anchoring your analysis in literature (library research)
• Designing your analysis
• Segmenting data
• Coding data
• Calculating frequency
• Finding patterns of distribution
• Exploring patterns
• Evaluating significance

   Detailing and presenting results

Week Fourteen 4- 18 Modality and attitude, register
Anderson “death in the woods” (locate this story)
C. Banks, “Black man and white woman in dark green rowboat” and related commentary
R. Toolan, Chapter 3
F. Chapter 10

Discussion leader : Steve

Please go to the following site for Anderson's Death in the Woods


Week Fifteen 4-25
Term paper presentations
Term paper due