The mission of the Society for the Study of the American Short Story is to support and facilitate teaching and research related to short fiction in America and other countries.
Nearly everyone who teaches literature knows that students have read scores of stories for every novel they have studied, and yet the materials available for examining short fiction are not nearly as advanced as they are for the novel. There are hundreds of scholarly treatments of the American novel, including volumes of reprinted criticism on a single book. The major writers, William Faulkner among them, have multiple studies of their individual novels among nearly a thousand scholarly discussions of his fiction. Only a handful of those are devoted to his short stories.
This limited scholarly record is true despite the fact that many of the most important writers in American literature are primarily significant for their stories, among them, to list only a few, Edgar Allen Poe, Washington Irving, Charles Chesnutt, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Sarah Orne Jewett, and Sui Sin Far. In contemporary fiction, Louise Erdrich is essentially a writer of stories, even though some of her volumes (Love Medicine is an example) carry the term “novel” on the cover. Susan Minot, Jamaica Kincaid, Robert Olen Butler, Julia Alvarez, Amy Tan, and Tim O’Brien are accomplished writers of short fiction and need to be studied in terms of the history of that genre. SSASS is the only organization devoted entirely to encouraging such investigation and providing a venue for presenting papers on the subject and discussing the genre in various forums.
The Society for the Study of the American Short Story is devoted to the exploration of all aspects of the genre from its origins to the present. Writers from all genders, nationality groups, and ethnic backgrounds are included in the wide interest of members of the Society, as are newly discovered authors throughout the history of the national literature. Some members are also focusing on the definition of a “story” and on the parameters of its design, ranging from episodes and vignettes to story cycles and novelles.
SSASS was founded in 2011 by James Nagel, acting in his capacity of an Executive Coordinator of the American Literature Society. A group of scholars at the annual convention expressed regret at the limited attention paid to the genre on the scores of panels given at the meeting and asked him to organize some events for the next meeting specifically on the short story. The large audience for these sessions, and for those at the fiction symposia in Savannah, demonstrated that there is a great deal of professional interest in the genre and in creating a collegial network of scholars to share ongoing research and recent discoveries.
For questions about the society, please contact our president, Jim Nagel, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you wish to join the society, please send an email to the president. There are no dues nor obligations other than to have an interest in the study of some important aspect of the American short story. All members will receive an annual newsletter and announcements of upcoming events and publications.