News Release, St. Mary’s College of Maryland

St. Mary’s College of Maryland English professor and two-time Fulbright Scholar Jennifer Cognard-Black released today a lecture series through The Great Courses.

The Great Courses are a series of educational classes delivered in video and audio formats offered to “surround the world’s greatest teachers with a team of experts who collaborate on crafting a customized and entertaining educational journey.”

The courses are available on DVD, streaming, or video download at

The award-winning professor’s course, “Great American Short Stories:  A Guide for Writers and Readers,” considers the history, the craft, and the art of this distinctive national genre for book lovers and writers alike.

The course traces the American short story from early examples of supernatural, mythic, and whimsical work by Washington Irving, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Edgar Allan Poe to more realistic and experimental stories by modern masters Ernest Hemingway, Donald Barthelme, Jhumpa Lahiri, ZZ Packer, and others.

“Short stories distill our lives into powerful pieces of literature that allow us to re-experience what it means to be human, in all of its complexity, difficulty, and miracle,” Cognard-Black said.

“This particular lecture series on Great American Short Stories introduces readers to new voices — as well as discussing oldies but goodies — and it teaches writers all about what Stephen King calls the ‘toolbox’ of good storytelling.”

In addition to traditional pieces, the course also covers postmodern and graphic works. 

This is the second lecture series Cognard-Black has released through The Great Courses. Her first course “Becoming a Great Essayist,” released in 2016.

“Learning isn’t limited to brick-and-mortar schools, nor does it stop once someone’s done with college,” Cognard-Black said. “What I appreciate about The Great Courses is that they take seriously what it means to learn from engaging and qualified experts in the field, regardless of the subject. Their goal is teaching excellence, which translates into potent and compelling lectures on an array of topics.”

Among her many achievements, Cognard-Black is a finalist for Baylor University’s 2020 Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching. The Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching is the only national teaching award – with the single largest monetary reward of $250,000 – presented by a college or university to an individual for exceptional teaching. 

She is also a past recipient of the  Norton T. Dodge Award for Creative and Scholarly Achievement at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. 

Cognard-Black earned her B.A. in English and music from Nebraska Wesleyan University, her M.A. in fiction writing from Iowa State University, and her Ph.D. from The Ohio State University in nineteenth-century literature and feminist theory.

She specializes in Anglo-American women novelists, fiction writing, and the literatures of food.

Her books include “Narrative in the Professional Age” (Routledge, 2004); “Kindred Hands” (Iowa University Press, 2006); a writing textbook, “Advancing Rhetoric” (Kendall Hunt Publishing, 2006); an anthology of food fictions, culinary poems, and recipe recollections, “Books that Cook: The Making of a Literary Meal” (New York University Press, 2014); and a collection of essays by women writers about their everyday contraptions, “From Curlers to Chainsaws: Women and Their Machines” (Michigan State University Press, 2016).

David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...