This course will examine novels and short stories in English from around the world, with an emphasis on contemporary work. As we examine the complex relationship between form and content and between texts and historical contexts, including the influence of literary tradition, we will ask questions like: what are the limits of possibility, if any, when it comes to literature? How do works in this medium open up their hermeneutic seals to the world, and how do they close themselves off? In what way is fiction “real” or “alive”? How does it work on us aesthetically, morally, emotionally, intellectually? When do genre categories help our understanding, and when are they arbitrary market categories? Why do the novel and short story emerge with modernity? In what way is literature a technology?