You will spend this class doing group work and preparing a short presentation on “Happy Endings,” by Kevin Canty.

Each group will be assigned one of the keywords below. These keywords are either themes or literary devices.

  1. True self vs. false self
  2. Identity
  3. Mind vs. body
  4. Epiphany (feeling or literary meaning. Not the Christian holiday.)
  5. What makes a short story successful?
  6. Imagery & Symbolism in literature

What you need to do:

  • Research secondary sources: Get online and read a few articles about the keywords you’ve been given. Wikipedia can be very useful, but check out some other web sites as well. Don’t necessarily settle for the first web site that pops up on Google. You may need to do a little digging. You might vary the exact words you type into Google. You want to get a working idea of this concept. Enough so that you can explain it to the rest of the class. Keep track of any useful websites and keep each one open on a separate tab in your browser.
  • Research primary source: Once you have a working idea of this concept, you want to look for as many examples of this concept manifesting itself in the story as possible. Look back at the story and underline key lines, make notes in the margin, ask questions, etc. Essentially, you are looking for patterns of your concept in this story. Find as many interesting examples of it as you can.
  • Condense ideas: Once you’ve done some researched and look back at the story, your group will prepare a Powerpoint presentation. This presentation should begin by giving an overview of the concept you have been giving. Try to explain it to the class as succinctly and clearly as possible. In your presentation, you must cite at least two different websites that you researched.
  • Search for patterns: Continue your presentation by explaining how this concept manifests itself in the story. You want to investigate the pattern of this concept in the story. You don’t necessarily need to know how it all fits together–you’re just gathering evidence and presenting it to the class. Cite at least four passages from the story in your presentation. For each one, explain why you feel it’s an interesting example of this concept in action. Always been searching for meaning that exists beneath the surface of the action.
  • End your presentation by making a short statement about how this concept functions in this story.
  • Share: Each group will present their presentation to the class.
  • Archive: Save your presentation as a PDF, and upload it to the blog (I’ll show you how to do this).

This is a bit of an experiment. I’ve never tried this exercise in exactly this way before. You have license to use your creativity while completing this exercise. In fact, you’ll have to use your creativity. I don’t have a set formula for how to proceed or a completely clear idea of what your output should look like. Figure it out. Feel free to incorporate media in your presentation. Also, the tasks above don’t have to be completed as steps in those order. You could have some members of your group do research on the web while others look for examples from the story, for example. Assign group roles as necessary. It’s up to you to figure it out!