Light prose

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Haven’t read the book? Fake it! (Used with limited license: Tim Bedison/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT)

Shannon Hearne

Recently, it was decided that Mr. Christopher Engel, English, will be teaching a Short Stories class for the 2016-17 school year. This class hopes to inspire many students through the short lessons and ignite a passion for shorter works of renowned literature.

“The administration, yearly, has a call for potentially elective classes. I wrote up two proposals: Short Stories and Argumentation. They were looking for an alternative and different approach to World Literature, and Short Stories is a compliment to World Literature. World Literature is more heavy reading and there is less writing, where Short Stories has a little bit less reading and has more writing. It presents a tradeoff without being a different level,” Mr. Engel said.

While both courses are on the same caliber of difficulty, Short Stories has the ability to explore a broader range of authors from all around the world.

“Each individual author has a value and a story to bring to the table. It’s nice to bring in someone as complicated as James Joyce and Ireland where, if you try to read some of his major works such as “Ulysses”, “Dubliners” or “A Portrait of the Artist [as a Young Man]”, you find they are very difficult to trudge through. However, if you take his short story “Eveline”, it becomes so accessible. This way someone can be introduced to an author [without it being time consuming], ” Mr. Engel said.

The main concept of this course is targeted at allowing students to take a short work and get a true sense of an author’s voice without compromising time or having to have a doctorate in literature.

“I am [most] looking forward to the conversation between England and Ireland. That relationship has been so strained, and still is today. It is going to be very interesting. [In contrast,] with the Caribbean, I get to explore a lot of new voices on the stage. [These] voices have only recently entered the world of literature,” Mr. Engel said.

There will be two classes for both first and second semester next school year and 120 students have already signed up for the course. The hours in which the class will be held have yet to be determined.

“[Mrs. Kathryn Clark, English,] and I both visited junior classes [to get the word out]. We told them about both of the classes and what the differences would be. We went on a sales pitch together,” Mr. Engel said.

With many students signed up, it is Mr. Engel’s hope to strengthen the reading and writing skills of each student that passes through his door.

“The challenge of the stories themselves and the discussions that will take place will help [students sharpen their skills]. [In terms of] writing skills, they will be responding individually to the works, themes or specific questions. They will be writing with each of the stories that we read. That is the trade-off: we will not be reading as many pages but we will be writing more material. In terms of enhancement [of the course] students will have an opportunity to obtain this global view on an individual basis. A global understanding of how things fit together in the world based on these authors views. My main goal, even if it sounds idealistic, is to let students see that the world is smaller than we think it is, that people from different lands, cultures, environments and backgrounds are less different than we like to believe. We like to segregate and separate when the reality is these elements of culture should bring us together, ” Mr. Engel said.