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Notes for Introduction to Literature
~~ Study Guide for the Fiction Exam ~~
LIT 165 - Introduction to Literature, Spring 2003
Be prepared to recall and identify the following short stories, which were assigned and discussed in class:
Be prepared to analyze these stories in terms of the formal elements defined in class and in notes supplied on the web: plot, character, point of view, theme, symbol, irony, paradox, and ambiguity. Know the context-specific meanings and extended vocabulary associated with these terms. Be prepared to apply any of these terms to the stories we've read.
Be prepared to identify several criteria (discussed in class, supplied in notes on the web) which readers can use to distinguish literature that's worthy of study.
Be prepared to define the short story in both technical and more open-ended ways (discussed in class, in handouts, supplied in notes on the web).
Be prepared to answer questions about how several influential writers (specifically Poe, Chekhov, Conrad, Hemingway, and Carver) defined the "art" of the short story. Be prepared to differentiate their respective ideas/quotations we discussed in class (handout).
Here are some additional questions (which revisit the same material above) to help you study for the exam on Wednesday.
THE ART OF THE SHORT STORY
1. In class, we identified several qualities or criteria to distinguish great literature. List three, then choose one of these and apply it to at least three short stories assigned for study.
2. In class, we differentiated the modern form known as the "short story" from earlier kinds of prose narratives like the "tale" and the "fable." Name two qualities that differentiate the modern short story from these earlier forms. Discuss two ways in which one of the short stories assigned for study is clearly a modern short story.
3. Recall the variety of ways in which we defined the art of the short story: by using a literary glossary (supplied in class and in notes on the web); by listening to writers who helped shape the genre in its early stages (handout); by listening to writing students (handout); and by considering the short story's formal elements (character, plot, point of view). Working from any of these sources, write two alternative definitions of the short story.
4. We discussed several writers whose contribution to an understanding of the art of short story is widely recognized. Paraphrase what each of these writers have said about the art of the short story.
FORMAL ELEMENTS OF SHORT STORIES
1. What is "exposition" and what are two stories in which it plays a key role in the plot? Briefly explain.
2. What are "conflict" and "dilemma" in the context a short story's plot? Why are they so essential to the short story? Choose three stories assigned for study and describe the conflict in each one. Choose one story whose plot leads to a dilemma for one of the characters.
3. What is the meaning of "protagonist" and "antagonist"? For each story we studied, identify the protagonist and antagonist.
4. How do you define "dynamic character," and what are three examples of dynamic characters in the short stories assigned for study?
5. How do you define "static character" and what are three examples of static characters in the short stories assigned for study?
6. List all the stories assigned for study which have a first person point-of-view, then list all the stories which have a third person point-of view. Distinguish the third-person point of view stories further (i.e., total omniscience, limited omniscience, and "objective" or "camera-eye" omniscience).
7. We defined several literary terms that apply to short stories as well as the other genres we'll study. These terms were ambiguity, symbol, theme, irony, and paradox. Define and illustrate each of these terms below with examples from the stories assigned for study.
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