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Topics in Journalism: Literary Journalism

Fall 2015
Section: 01  
Crosslisting: ENGL 257, CSPL 250G
Certificates: Writing

In this course, we will explore the art and craft of magazine-length journalism that strives to do something different than reporting the news--it aspires to achieve the goals of literature. While this kind of writing tends to be timely, as almost all journalism must be when it's first published, at its best, it ought to be worth reading for decades to come. Truman Capote, for example, conceived of IN COLD BLOOD, which he first published as a series of articles in THE NEW YORKER in 1965, as a "non-fiction novel": a work of journalism that employed the techniques and artistry of fiction. We will study the writing of new journalists like Joan Didion, Tom Wolfe, Nora Ephron, and Gay Talese, who pioneered the idea that there is no such thing as unbiased reporting: The writer can't help but bring a point of view to his or her storytelling, so why not admit it? These writers broke with journalistic convention and admitted that there was an "I" behind the typewriter, a mediator between the "true" story and the reader.

We will focus on reading and writing two forms in particular, the profile and the essay. While an excellent profile can be a straightforward examination of another person and his or her place in the world, in the hands of a master like Janet Malcolm or George Trow, it can become an eruption of invention. Essays ask a question or argue a point--but how? There are as many ways as there are writers who explore the form, and in this course we will seek to join them.

This course is offered by Ariel Levy of The New Yorker, Wesleyan's Koeppel Journalism Fellow, Fall 2015.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: HA WRCT
Course Format: SeminarGrading Mode: Graded
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (CWRC)
Past Enrollment Probability: Not Available

Last Updated on SEP-20-2021
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