Quick Write: The American Short Story

Quick Write: The American Short Story

Short Story Quick Write


Take a few minutes to write about your understanding of the short story genre.

Use the following questions to guide your thinking.

  • What short stories have you read?
    • Which did you enjoy and why?
  • What are elements of short stories that are specific to the genre?
  • How do short stories, like all art, reflect elements of the culture that produces them?
  • What do you want to know about short stories?

Open Notebook

Share your thoughts about the short story genre in small groups and take notes as you listen to your classmates.

Intro to Unit Accomplishments

Work Time

Read the Unit Accomplishments.

  • As a class, you will read a number of American short stories that reflect the social and cultural landscape of America in different time periods. This reading will complement your study of 19th, 20th- and 21st-century American history.
  • You will choose works for your own exploration of ideas and insights about American literature and culture.
  • In groups, you will explore short stories from an assigned historical period.
  • After researching and reading several authors from the assigned historical period, your group will choose four short stories for a class anthology.
  • With your group, you will design and deliver a multimedia presentation about the authors and ideas reflected in the writings of your assigned era.
  • Each individual in the group will write and submit an analysis essay about how two of the stories reflect the social and cultural landscape of America in different time periods.

Essay and Analysis

Work Time

Working independently, read and annotate the first three paragraphs of the essay “In Praise of the American Short Story.”

Then share your understanding of the essay so far in your small group.

Answer the following questions, using evidence from the text to support your answers.

  • What, according to the writer, is “wrong” with the common view of the short story?
  • Who has this view? Why?
  • What qualities do short stories possess?
  • What words or phrases in the essay did you not know or understand?

Open Notebook

Share your ideas and insights with the full class.

Essay Vocabulary

Work Time

Finish reading and annotating the essay “In Praise of the American Short Story.”

  • Find three or four words or phrases that you do not know or understand and make a note of them.
  • In your small group, try to figure out the meaning of these words or phrases together.

Essay Response Quick Write


  • Now that you have read the essay, revisit the question "What qualities do short stories possess?" Use evidence from the essay in your response.

Next, consider the Guiding Questions for this unit and discuss them with your class.

  • If you were to write a short story about this decade, what issues might you focus on?
  • What defines a short story? Just length?
  • To what extent to these stories reflect the era or decade in which they were written?
  • To what extent are the themes they address universal?

You'll revisit these questions at the end of the unit.

Short Story Reflection


  • Write one to three paragraphs about what you see as the benefits or qualities of a short story.
  • Use at least one idea expressed in the essay to support your response—either supporting your idea or contradicting it.

Open Notebook