6 Introduction

Module 2 – Responding to Fiction

Module Introduction


Perhaps you have heard the expression, “Everybody loves a good story.” Reading fiction is widely thought to be for the purpose of enjoyment. In fact, that is why some people were skeptical of fiction (novels in particular) when it began to rise in popularity in the 18th century. It was feared that reading and enjoying literature based on the imagination – even fantasy – might corrupt the moral reasoning of the audience, although these fears did not significantly dampen the growth and popularity of the genre. In addition to providing entertainment, reading fiction is a particularly effective way of developing complex reasoning and active reading skills that can be applied to numerous other professional and academic pursuits.

The selection of fiction included in this module is not intended to represent a comprehensive survey of every major time period, literary style, or culture. Instead, the works of fiction included in this module were selected because of their unique narrative complexity. Adding to our close reading skills, we will aim to deepen our analysis more actively consider how an understanding of the formal elements of fiction can help us to analyze and interpret literary texts. This module will focus on works of short fiction by Edgar Allan Poe, Franz Kafka, and William Faulkner. The genre of fiction includes of course much longer works than short stories. Novels (full-length books) and novellas (shorter books that are still longer than a short story) have played a major role in the development of the genre. For the purposes of introductory study, however, this module focuses on short fiction, or the short story. 1

Course Learning Outcomes

This module addresses the following Course Learning Outcomes listed in the Syllabus for this course:

  • Demonstrate proficiency in critical thinking
  • Interpret and evaluate cultural artifacts and/or their contexts for significance
  • Understand basic literary elements of specific genres: short story, poetry, and drama
  • Analyze and evaluate selected works of literature in classroom or online settings
  • Analyze and evaluate both in class discussions (whether face-to-face or electronic) and in class writing, selected works of literature
  • Demonstrate and understand how literature is relevant to their personal, social, and historical awareness 1

Module Objectives

Upon completion of this module, the student will be able to:

  • Describe the general history of the development of literary genres
  • Recognize literary elements and formal structures of fiction
  • Describe themes and major ideas of selected short fiction Interpret selected short fiction for meaning and significance
  • Analyze fiction in writing
  • Develop a literary analysis of a specific short story 1

Readings and Resources

  • Read: Learning Object: Fiction and Active Reading (1) (see below)
  • Read: Module 2 Readings (Attached above Module_02.pdf . You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to access this file)

Optional Further Reading

  • Eaglestone, Robert. Contemporary Fiction: A Very Short Introduction . Oxford: OUP, 2013.
  • Eagleton, Terry. Literary Theory: An Introduction. Malden: John Wiley & Sons, 2011.
  • Vonnegut, Kurt. Slaughterhouse-Five: A Novel . New York: Random House Publishing Group, 2009.


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