Teaching Twentieth- and Twenty-First-Century US Short Fiction

deadline for submissions: 
June 15, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Jeehyun Lim, John K. Young / University at Buffalo, The State University of New; Marshall University
contact email: 

Teaching Twentieth- and Twenty-First-Century US Short Fiction

Edited by Jeehyun Lim and John K. Young


We invite submissions on twentieth- and twenty-first century US short fiction for an edited volume in the Modern Language Association’s Options for Teaching series. What is the place of short fiction in twentieth- and twenty-first-century US literature? This inquiry involves a series of questions on the definition of short fiction. Is the genre and category based on length? On whether it emphasizes completeness or impression? On style? Instead of starting with a definition, we aim to explore short fiction through how writers, critics, and teachers have approached, understood, and employed the genre and category throughout the twentieth century and in the twenty-first century.


The short story has a long history in US literature. In this volume we seek to examine the specific developments of short fiction at various turning points of the long twentieth century and in the first decade of the twenty-first century with an eye to its evolving cultural role and literary significance. How have immigration and migration impacted the genre? How have the changing dynamics of race and ethnicity been manifested in short fiction? Has short fiction afforded different kinds of publishing opportunities for writers from marginalized groups? What sorts of literary magazines or other periodicals have propelled innovations in short fiction? What are forms might short fiction take on in a future that moves further away from print-based media? These are some of the questions that convey the volume’s interests. While we are only considering US short fiction, we approach both nation and nationality as neither coterminous with territorial borders nor fixed and permanent in nature. Short fiction as it relates to border writing or short fiction in languages other than English can be a powerful vehicle for asking the significance of national origin or identity for the genre. We welcome approaches that would challenge our understanding of what constitutes US short fiction.


Additionally, we are interested in contributions that reflect on the pedagogical affordances of short fiction. Do the genre’s brevity and (ostensible) accessibility help to reach student audiences that might respond differently to novels or non-fictional genres? Are there teaching strategies or methods to which short fiction is especially amenable? What are the ways you have used US short fiction in remote learning environments?


We are particularly, though not exclusively, interested in submissions that address one of the following areas:

  • Short stories or short story cycles as approached through the lens of race/ethnicity, gender/sexuality, or disability studies
  • Short fiction and environmental studies or ecocriticism
  • Short fiction and popular culture, including relationship to genre fiction such as science fiction, mysteries, fantasy, and romance
  • Literary magazines and periodicals as incubators for short fiction
  • Short fiction as a space for innovative or experimental approaches
  • MFA programs, the culture of writing and publishing, and short fiction
  • Digital culture and new media technologies’ influence on short fiction, including flash fiction / micro fiction / electronic writing
  • Short fiction in languages other than English, or short fiction and translation
  • Teaching US short fiction in remote learning environments


Submit 500-word abstract and 3-page CV to Jeehyun Lim (jeehyunl@buffalo.edu) and John K. Young (youngj@marshall.edu) by 15 June. Further inquiries can be emailed to John K. Young or Jeehyun Lim as well.