Graduate Liberal Studies Program

Course Description

GLS 545: Author Focus: Stephen King

Instructor: Mika Elovaara

Four Stephen King Books

An exceptionally productive writer, often dubbed "The Master of Horror," Stephen King is one of the best known authors worldwide; his books are bestsellers from his native Maine to Moscow, Manila, and Melbourne, and a significant number of his works have been made into successful, including the Academy Award© winning Misery and Stanley Kubrick's Shining, starring Jack Nicholson. Whether you look at the numbers his books sell around the world and the film adaptations they inspire or consider his regular columns in Entertainment Weekly and his role as the editor for The Best American Short Stories 2007, King's status as an extremely popular and well-respected contemporary American author is unquestionable. Starting with his first published novel, Carrie, and working through novels, novellas and short stories from different time periods in his career, we will study a variety of King's works during the course, including some works which were first published under a pseudonym, Richard Bachman. Though a literature course by its course materials and our approach to most class readings, this course is, in fact, a combination of a course in writing and literature. In addition to using the more traditional approaches to analyze literature when we talk about King's fiction, we will also study King's own views on writing as discussed in his autobiographical 2000 publication, On Writing. As it is extremely rare for successful writers to publish work on their own practices and methods, it is a wonderful added element in a study of an author's works to be able to get an insight to how he sees his own work as a process. According to The Washington Post, On Writing "combines autobiography and admonition, inspiration and instruction [and] is an enjoyable mix." Consequently, reading his autobiographical "memoir of the craft" alongside studying King's fiction should make our reading experiences with King more interesting and help us develop our own writing skills as well. The class structure is based on in-class discussions of assigned readings and relevant in-class and homework writing assignments. Course requirements: a reading journal, a theme presentation, a group presentation, a mid-term paper, a final paper.


  • Theme Presentation 10%
  • Group Presentation 10%
  • In-class participation (including the reading journal) 30 %
  • Mid-term paper 25 %
  • Final paper 25 %

GLS Student Learning Outcomes:

In this course, the student will learn:

  • to apply critical theories to the subject of the course;
  • to make connections between various theories and ideas to the specific subject of the course;
  • to apply creative solutions to the problems raised within the course;
  • to express oneself articulately in the written portion of the course;
  • to express oneself articulately in the oral portion of the course;
  • to conduct complex research, synthesize it, and argue persuasively in support of a claim based on evidence;
  • to analyze the value and significance of one's own creative work, and to situate it within the context of similar creative works.

Tentative Course Reading List (all books by Stephen King):


On Writing
The Long Walk

Selections from Different Seasons
Selections from Four Past Midnight
Quitters, Inc. (audio book)
Selections from Everything's Eventual
Selections from Just After Sunset
Blockade Billy
Selections from Full Dark, No Stars
The Stand or It (the choice will be yours, individually)

Last Update: December 21, 2011