Research topics for short stories and anthologies

Short stories are a staple of classic literature. The short story form allows authors to provide glimpses into emotion and context.

Find out more about short stories here. (Credit: Kitaab.com)

Find out more about short stories here. (Credit: Kitaab.com)

Here are some research topics for your term paper on short stories, anthologies, awards and short stories online.

Anthologies of short stories

A good research paper topic idea is to discuss the value and variety of the anthology. Anthologies collect short stories for a variety of reasons, such as all by the same author, by different authors on the same theme or by authors who were all chosen as the best writers for that year. Anthologies by a single author are popular as readers enjoy knowing the stories are by one creative mind. In addition, “anthologies can be sold to particular audiences who might not usually be heavy readers, for example sports fans, or to consumers of particular genres, such as horror, science fiction and fantasy, who tend to be both voracious and knowledgeable readers,” said Paul March-Russell in the 2009 book The Short Story: An Introduction. For example, the 2016 anthology To Shape the Dark edited by Athena Andreadis, Ph.D., contains stories on the very specific theme of women scientists in a science-fiction/fantasy setting.

Some literary critics dislike anthologies, however, saying that the author’s intent with a short story is to present a self-sufficient view into a single subject, scene or event. To collect numerous short stories by a single author or a single theme compels the reader to compare the stories against each other, and to read the collection as a whole unit, not as single short works.

Short story award competitions

You could write your term paper on winners of short story competitions. There are many awards given out by various groups, such as Writer’s Digest Award, O. Henry Prize Stories, Flannery O’Connor Award, The Master’s Review, and Australian Book Review’s Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize. Another is the BBC National Short Story: “The Award continues to serve as a reminder of the power of the short story and to celebrate a literary form that is proving ever more versatile in the 21st century,” wrote a contributor Booktrust.org in “BBC National Short Story Award 2016,” noting that fiction can be enjoyed not only on the page but also on the screen and at flash fiction events, short story festivals and slams. “BBC Radio 4 is the world’s biggest single commissioner of short stories with short stories broadcast every week attracting more than a million listeners,” the reporter continued. The 2015 winner was Jonathan Buckley with “Briar Road” about a psychic looking for a missing girl.

Authors use biographical information

Another topic for a term paper is to research short story writers who take to heart the saying “write what you know” and use biographical information in their work. A famous example is the classic story “The Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka about a man who turns into a cockroach. The story reflects themes of alienation that Kafka himself felt. “A lot of critics look to Kafka’s biographical and historical context to argue that this story, published in 1912, expresses Kafka’s personal sense of alienation. … [N]ot only was he a German speaker living in Czech Prague, and a Jew living in hyper anti-Semitic times, but Kafka also felt enormous pressure to become a successful businessman like his father,” explained a writer for Shmoop.com in “The Metamorphosis: An Introduction.”

For more information, check out Questia’s library on short stories.

Do you prefer to read short stories or full-length novels?

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