Death in Nostalgia City

By Mark S. Bacon

Measuring flash fiction’s popularity

How popular is flash fiction?  Anthology sales and the proliferation of online and print flash fiction journals are two measures.  Here are two more:  Dozens of colleges and universities now teach flash fiction and an untold number of contests are sponsored weekly, monthly, annually to encourage writers to take up the genre.

First, the college courses.  From California community colleges to the Ivy League, classes in flash fiction are appearing in the catalog listings of English departments.

Here is a sample of colleges offering flash fiction instruction.

–Stanford – English 190T-1: Topics in Intermediate Fiction Writing: Flash Fiction.

–University of Cambridge (UK) – Flash Fiction: Unlocking the Writer Within.  According to the class listing,  “This weekend of classes is designed to unlock your potential by setting you loose on a series of short writing challenges, from writing a fairy story as a tabloid journalist, to writing your life in numbers.”

–Brown University – The universityoffers a course in Flash Fiction for high school students preparing for college.

–University of Virginia – Contemporary Flash Fiction – Theory and Practice.  “One might be tempted to attribute ‘flash fiction’ to the explosion of social media and its ever-briefer modes of expression,” writes the course’s instructor Elizabeth Denton, “but short fiction has existed in literature for a long time, depending on how it’s defined.”

–South Puget Sound Community College – The Olympia, Wash., college offers a seminar entitled, Become a Published Flash Fiction Writer.

–UCLA –  The university’s extension offers a course in flash fiction.  The course description says,  “Flash fiction is narrative in a hurry.”

–Wake Forest University – The Winston-Salem, N.C., university offers a course in flash fiction and the university magazine recently challenged the faculty to write 25-word stories for publication.

Other colleges that offer flash fiction courses or seminars include: Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y;  SUNY Plattsburg, N.Y.; Washington University, St. Louis; American University, Washington, D.C.; Wesleyan University, Middletown, Conn.; Duke University, Durham, N.C.; and Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond, Ky.

A later installment here will list some of the many flash fiction contests held regularly.

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