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Friday, October 1 • 3:05pm - 3:25pm
From Short Story to Case-Based Learning: Workplace Fiction After COVID

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What would help present and post COVID students become better readers and thus better writers? How could reading short fiction help business students understand business issues? How can case-based learning assist students in identifying personalites and conflicts at work? 

Teaching a course in workplace fiction and also a course in composition and business writing provided two sites for observation in two different universities. The assumption is that a case is a story with characters and plot, whether the case is assigned for analysis of problems, leadership, or organizational mission or whether the students create the case themselves. 

Two short stories, one from early 20th century and the other published in 2020, reveal elements of leadership and supervision of employees in differing workplaces. One provides readers with a newly appointed captain of a ship returning from the South Asian seas to England whereas the other shows us a young immigrant mother from Laos who is disrupted in her farming and family tasks by an ambitious young man who takes charge. Both stories inscribe the theme of alienation at work. Both demonstrate the challenges of a working life. As one critic of workplace fiction state: “. . . literature that engages the subject of work thereby proclaims work to be a proper subject of our notice—ultimately, a moral transaction” (Ford, 2011, p. xi).
The two stories could become case studies if we appreciate that fiction contains omissions which a case could fill in. For example, readers have questions about fiction that a case study could answer.

Neither short story presents employees struggling with new technology; both show traditional jobs based on physical labour. Yet both anticipate a new reality in which humans at work are more detached from one another, more caught up in anger and fear, and more controlled by the protocols of impersonal labour relations. Moreover, looking back at Conrad's story from the perspective of the COVID years, we now have new ways of understanding the conclusion in which Leggatt, the fugitive officer hiding in the Captain's cabin, lets go of a rope connecting him to the ship, slips into unexplored waters near shore, "a proud swimmer, striking out for a new destiny." Overall, we are asking now what that new destiny may be.

avatar for Noosha Mehdian

Noosha Mehdian

Faculty, UCW
Dr. Mehdian has more than 20 years of experience teaching in the Middle East, South East Asia and Canada where she has taught in various programs and universities, trained teachers, developed course material, audited schools and supervised teaching practicums.  Her PhD and her... Read More →

avatar for Alex Pett

Alex Pett

Academic Committee, PDGIA
Dr. Alexandra Pett has taught English and communications courses at universities and colleges from coast to coast in Canada. For sixteen years, she has worked with University Canada West, as writing coach, chair of Arts and Science, full time faculty, and at present as an adjunct... Read More →

Friday October 1, 2021 3:05pm - 3:25pm PDT
Zoom Session 4