The Art of Narrative Science|
|Certificates: Environmental Studies, Environmental Studies Minor|
There is neither conflict nor antagonism between the realms of art and science. Indeed, the two infinitely complement and complete one another in ways so intimate, intricate, and oft-times invisible that only great storytelling, artful narrative, can fully reveal them. A poet, through metaphor, builds bridges from entangled inscapes of thought and emotion to a place of shared understanding. A good narrative science writer must do the equivalent with the often recondite minutia of modern scientific exploration, and do so with ever-increasing urgency as new discoveries and insights mount daily across a broad array of disciplines.
As we'll be highlighting in our course readings, writing assignments, and class discussion, all the key tenets of good storytelling are at play in effective narrative science writing: voice, point of view, narrative arc, dramatic tension, setting and scenes, characters, action, and dialogue. Science, in this sense, is incidental to this course's primary concern. The singular challenge that science does pose to writers, however, is how not to be cowed and/or overwhelmed by the daunting complexities of the subject matter; how to, through your own powers of observation, accrued research, and fearless, persistent questioning, own the material in such a way that frees you to imaginatively represent it again to the lay reader as story.
In this course students will learn:
1) How to read effective creative nonfiction about scientific subjects and understand what techniques different writers use to achieve both clear and compelling narratives.
2) How to choose the subjects they'd like to write a story about and how to compose a proposal describing that story to prospective editors at a variety of different publications.
3) How to compile research and conduct interviews for their stories.
4) How to construct the story itself using all the techniques of effective storytelling in feature-length narratives.
||Gen Ed Area Dept:
|Course Format: Discussion||Grading Mode: Graded|
||Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (ENVS-MN)(ENVS)
||Past Enrollment Probability: 90% or above
|Major Readings: Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore
Lucretius, ON THE NATURE OF THINGS, (Selections)
Richard Fortey, LIFE: AN UNAUTHORIZED BIOGRAPHY, (Selections)
Lewis Thomas, THE LIVES OF A CELL, (Selections)
Michael Pollan, THE INTELLIGENT PLANT AND THE TRIP TREATMENT
Selections from BEST AMERICAN SCIENCE WRITING
Meghan O'Rourke, WHAT'S WRONG WITH ME
Laura Hillenbrand, A SUDDEN ILLNESS
Charles Siebert, THE REHUMANIZATION OF THE HEART
Charles Siebert, OF A FEATHER AND AN ELEPHANT CRACK-UP
Selected pieces from The New Yorker
Steven Johnson, THE GHOST MAP, (Selections)
Rebecca Skloot, THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS, (selections)
Dava Sobel, LONGTITUDE
W. G. Sebald, THE RINGS OF SATURN, (Selections)
All the texts for this course will be available at the campus bookstore. Selections from various periodicals I will be printing up independently and submitting in class.
|Examinations and Assignments: |
In addition to the course readings and class discussions about them, students will be asked to compose a 1,000-1,200-word essay around an idea or question posed in class as well as to conceive of and compose their own feature-length (4,000 to 6,000 words) science-based story about any subject of their choosing. They will first write a completed proposal for that story and then the story itself. They will also keep a Moleskine notebook (to be included with the course's assigned texts) in which they compile notes about their pending feature length story. These pieces, as they progress, will be presented and discussed in class in a workshop setting.
Your completed feature-length story proposal will account for 20% of your grade. The story itself will account for 70% of your grade. The remaining 10% will be based on you class participation, as measured by your immersion in the readings assigned and in the class discussions about those readings and about each other writing.
|Instructor(s): Siebert,Charles Times: .M..... 01:20PM-04:10PM; Location: 284 HIGH; |
|Total Enrollment Limit: 16||SR major: 3||JR major: 3|| || |
|Seats Available: 5||GRAD: X||SR non-major: 3||JR non-major: 3||SO: 3||FR: 1|
|Drop/Add Enrollment Requests|
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