Course Descriptions

Term:  

Fall Quarter

Dept Course No and Title Instructor
LIT JRN (F18)20  INTR LIT JOURNALISMDEPAUL, A.
Reading of selected texts to explore the ways in which literary journalism and related nonfiction modes formulate experience. Students write several short papers and one final project. The required prerequisite for either section of LJ 20 is satisfactory completion of the lower-division writing requirement.
LIT JRN (F18)20  INTR LIT JOURNALISMSTAFF; SIEGEL, B.; PIERSON, P.
Reading of selected texts to explore the ways in which literary journalism and related nonfiction modes formulate experience. Students write several short papers and one final project. The required prerequisite for either section of LJ 20 is satisfactory completion of the lower-division writing requirement.
LIT JRN (F18)21  REPORTING LIT JOURNDEPAUL, A.
To write convincingly and tell powerful stories that resonate, writers need to be meticulous, thorough reporters. LJ21 teaches students how to report their literary journalism articles accurately and thoroughly, focusing on the three basic means of gathering information for a story: interviewing, observing and reading. Early in the quarter, students will select a topic, or beat, as it is known in news parlance, from which they will develop contacts and story leads. Students will cover an event, conduct an interview and generate articles related to their beats, also learning ways to use Internet resources and databases to find facts and information and examining investigative and legal documents. The required prerequisite for either section of LJ 21 is satisfactory completion of the lower-division writing requirement.
LIT JRN (F18)21  REPORTING LIT JOURNDEPAUL, A.
To write convincingly and tell powerful stories that resonate, writers need to be meticulous, thorough reporters. LJ21 teaches students how to report their literary journalism articles accurately and thoroughly, focusing on the three basic means of gathering information for a story: interviewing, observing and reading. Early in the quarter, students will select a topic, or beat, as it is known in news parlance, from which they will develop contacts and story leads. Students will cover an event, conduct an interview and generate articles related to their beats, also learning ways to use Internet resources and databases to find facts and information and examining investigative and legal documents. The required prerequisite for either section of LJ 21 is satisfactory completion of the lower-division writing requirement.
LIT JRN (F18)101BW  ART OF RECONSTRUCTNSIEGEL, B.
In some quarters, the practice of "reconstructing" a story is seen as suspect if not impossible. How can you write about events if you weren't present when they happened? How can you know what other people think or feel? Doesn't reconstruction border on fiction? In this workshop, students will explore such questions­ and learn just how literary journalists manage to practice the art of reconstruction in entirely ethical, accurate ways. Students will read exemplary models of reconstructed narrative by writers such as Jon Krakauer, Laura Hillenbrand and Michael Paterniti. They will see why reconstruction plays such a crucial, honorable role in the field of literary journalism. They will also do a good deal of their own reconstruction (learning, along the way, what Tom Wolfe meant when he said that "entering people's minds" was just "one more doorbell a reporter had to push.") This course is an advanced writing workshop: students will regularly share their work with classmates in a constructive process of peer-review, then revise based on that feedback. By the end of the quarter, students will have produced a major example of reconstructed narrative writing.
LIT JRN (F18)101BW  NATURE WRITINGWILENTZ, A.
We live in California, arguably the most beautiful state in the union. Yet all around us every day, we see degradation and despoliation of our incredible natural environment. We also see man's efforts to protect and enhance nature, in the form of zoos, aquariums, parks, preserves, landscaping, etc. This workshop will provide students with the writer's tools to depict both the grandeur and complexity of nature, and also humanity's vexed relationship with the natural world, as our complicated and often perverse species tries to control and develop what nature has provided. What problems and dilemmas occur when people confront nature? Rather than write broadly about issues like climate change or pollution, we'll try to find particular and local instances of environmental conflicts and crises that offer us opportunities for narrative and thematic drama. We will learn to write both appreciatively and analytically about the nature we see around us -- which can include anything from rabbits to wildfires to the kennels of the ASPCA -- and we will attempt to keep our work as local as possible. One of the best things about this workshop is that it gives writers an opportunity, often, to return to subjects that interested them when they were younger, but that they now can study in an organized, reflective, and serious way. An alternate title for the course might be "Bugs, Birds, Fish, Whales, Rivers, and Trees." Among the many whose works we will be reading are the classic naturalists, like Rachel Carson, John Muir, and yes, even Thoreau, as well as more recent environmental writers like Annie Dillard, John McPhee, Bill McKibben, and Elizabeth Kolbert.
LIT JRN (F18)101BW  ART OF THE PROFILECORWIN, M.
In this class we will study the art of the profile and focus on every element of profile writing. We will begin by focusing on story selection and delve into how to pick a subject who readers will care about. Then we will address interviewing and hone in on how to prepare, how to select questions, how to obtain great quotes, and how to transform an interview into a conversation. Story structure will be a key element of this class and we will break down each element of a well-crafted profile. Finally, we’ll discuss how to elevate a profile in order to portray not just the person, but important political and social issues. Several accomplished literary journalists will visit the class and discuss their approach to profile writing. The foundation of this class is weekly one-on-one editing sessions so students can have the experience of shaping story ideas and honing their pieces with an editor. Students will have the opportunity to write several profiles of varying lengths.
LIT JRN (F18)103  JOURNLSM ONTHE EDGECORWIN, M.
From the slums of Mumbai, to the gang neighborhoods of Watts; from the classrooms of South Central Los Angeles and the remote villages of the Amazon, to the war-torn streets of Iraq, journalists seek out places most people avoid, and they return to tell stories that shed light on important issues and serious social problems. The books we read follow the paths of these journalists who enter dangerous and unfamiliar areas, report at their peril and return to illuminate misunderstood parts of the world. As we shadow the writers on these journeys, we discuss how they were able to obtain access into these worlds, gain the trust of the residents, transcend stereotypes, and tell stories that were not simply dry recitations of facts, problems and solutions, but compelling narratives. We discuss poverty, discrimination, and inequality in this class. We also study the art of storytelling, including how to engage the reader, how to create a page-turning story arc, how to make characters come alive. We break down the books in order to understand the writers' styles and their approaches. This class will be helpful for those who are interested in becoming writers, as well as students who simply love good writing and good storytelling. Several of the writers we read will visit the class and discuss the dangers they faced, the risks they encountered and their research methods and writing techniques.
LIT JRN (F18)103  EARTH LITERATUREWILENTZ, A.
For this class, we are going to read nonfiction and fiction on nature and on climate change, books that bring to life the grandeur of Earth and the terrible immediate problems facing the planet. We’ll use Bill McKibben’s anthology, American Earth, as a guiding work, but we may also read – in addition to McKibben -- such writers as Pulitzer prizewinning Annie Dillard, the great 1960s climate-change novelist J.G. Ballard, New Yorker environmental writer Elizabeth Kolbert, Nobel prizewinner Svetlana Alexievich, bestselling novelist Barbara Kingsolver, activist/commentator Naomi Klein, and finally, British environmental activist and founder of Climate Outreach, George Marshall, as well as thinkers and experts who have developed the fields of environmental justice and just sustainability. We’ll consider how an appreciation of and connection to the natural world can allow us to think more clearly about the real meaning and danger of climate change. We’ll explore the ways in which our natural love of story means that both fiction and nonfiction can help us understand the imminence of the disaster, and we’ll discover how greater knowledge may aid us in mitigating the catastrophe.
LIT JRN (F18)103  LITERATURE OF LAWWEINSTEIN, H.
THE LITERATURE OF LAW: A Study of Dramatic Civil Cases

The students in this course will read, discuss, analyze and write about four books, "Make No Law," by Anthony Lewis, "History on Trial," by Deborah Lipstadt, "The Buffalo Creek Disaster," by Gerald Stern and "A Civil Action," by Jonathan Harr.

Each of the books presents a strong narrative, laced with history and social context.

Lewis’ book is considered by many to a brilliant account of the most important First Amendment decision of the 20th Century—New York Times v. Sullivan. That 1963 ruling set the standards for libel litigation in the United States. Lewis, the winner of two Pulitzer Prizes as a New York Times reporter and the author of 'Gideon’s Trumpet,' not only dissects all the key facets of the case; he presents a brilliant history of First Amendment law in the U.S.

Lipstadt’s book presents a stark contrast to Lewis' in at least one major respect. In 1993, the Emory University History professor published an acclaimed book, 'Denying the Holocaust,' in which she called historian David Irving, who once said that more people died in Ted Kennedy’s car at Chappaquiddick than in the gas chambers at Auschwitz, 'one of the most dangerous spokesperson for Holocaust denial.' Irving sued Lipstadt for libel in London and the American historian was forced to defend herself in England, where the defendant, not the plaintiff, has the burden of proof in a libel case. These two books will present a striking glimpse of the difference between the U.S. and British legal systems.

The third book is 'The Buffalo Creek Disaster', a tale of how the survivors of one of the worst disasters in coal mining history brought a suit against a major coal company and won. The author is attorney Gerald M. Stern, who represented the victims. Besides being a fascinating yarn about people caught in a disaster and how a lawyer represents low-income people against a powerful adversary, the book affords us the opportunity to discuss how Stern, a lawyer, writes about his own work compared to how Lipstadt, the professor, writes about herself as a litigant.

The fourth book, "A Civil Action," is also about an epic courtroom showdown. In this instance, a group of bereaved parents sued two giant corporations who they believe are responsible for the deaths of their children. This book, brilliantly written by Jonathan Harr, is a classic tale of a legal system gone awry. It takes you inside the operation of two law firms, dissects legal strategy and presents a close-up view of how lawyers inter-act with their clients. "A Civil Action" won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction, a tribute to its literary merit. (In addition, the book was considered important for lawyers that a leading legal book company published a documentary companion to the book, used in law schools.) "A Civil Action," was also made into a movie starring John Travolta, John Lithgow, Robert Duvall and Lindsay Crouse, among others.
LIT JRN (F18)198  MAGAZINE PUBLISHINGPIERSON, P.
This class, which meets in the fall quarter, invites students to work as a group editorial board to solicit, read, review, evaluate, and edit stories for publication in the program's online magazine.  The class also works on organizing and producing a literary reading event which highlights the very best work produced in the Literary Journalism classes.  Students will also help to identify and recognize outstanding student writing for possible consideration for the spring Literary Journalism writing awards.  This course cannot be used to replace any courses required for the LJ major or minor; however, the course can provide units toward the minimum required for graduation.