Course Descriptions


Spring Quarter

Dept Course No and Title Instructor
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.
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.
Advanced Reporting asks students to complete a series of writing and multimedia assignments that require proficiency in varied reporting strategies such as interview, observation and research. Assignments will include profile, photo story, social problem/community reporting, and a final group digital project on a subject of our choosing. Guest speakers will offer insight into professional paths.
Magazine writing takes many forms: the in-depth piece, the insightful personality profile, the short impressionistic story that usually runs in the front of the publication. When written with style and insight, all of these stories can embody the best of literary journalism. Many of America's finest nonfiction writers perfected their style when they were crafting these kinds of pieces. Students will have the opportunity to sharpen their storytelling skills by writing several types of articles. The foundation of this class is weekly one-on-one meetings with your editor (professor) where you will discuss how to come up with story ideas,how your stories were edited and how to improve them. This will give you the experience of shaping story ideas and honing your pieces with an editor. A number of accomplished writers will visit the class and talk about how they research and write. We will focus on the importance of insightful interviewing and dogged reporting. Students will learn to develop their own writing style by reading and analyzing a wide range of stories. The required prerequisite for this course is LJ101A.
This workshop for Literary Journalism majors will explore the personal essay, its tradition and how it has developed into its current form. We know why the personal essay is popular and compelling: it takes the reader right into the mind of the writer, and ostensibly lets the writer discuss what matters most to him or her. But what makes a personal essay good and important? We'll talk about the function of narrative sweep in the personal essay, and how suspense and secrets are particularly important to this form. We will talk about the concept of "broadening out" -- that is, making our own story meaningful in a wider context. Our mantra in this class: "It's not just about you." Writers we'll read include, among others: Mark Twain, James Baldwin, Maxine Hong Kingston, M.F.K. Fisher, Lorrie Moore, Norman Mailer, Joan Didion, Wole Soyinka, Philip Roth, Susan Orlean. We will investigate how the personal essay can vary, allowing a writer to address personal experience and write with sensitivity about others. We'll use research, interviews and of course, the world outside us. "It's not just about you." We'll look at tone and point of view, and the varieties of first-person writing. One theme will be the conflict between the private self and the public act of writing. We will criticize each other's work constructively in this workshop, and try to figure out ways to resolve questions in our writing. Be advised: although we are writing personal essays, this workshop will not be a psychological group session. Students will write one or two short pieces for this class, and a final, longer article.
The world of literary journalism is evolving and adapting for the Web and e-readers, but the core of the craft remains the same: Literary journalism is about true stories told in captivating ways. In this class students will discuss how these stories are changing with the rising popularity of blogs, websites, iPads, iPhones, Kindles and more. They will be expected to find and report stories that they are passionate about, whether their pieces explore the environment, politics, sports, art, subcultures, crime or interesting places. Stories can be narrative reconstructions, immersion pieces, profiles, longform essays, or first-person reported narratives. Students can choose to learn to build digital narratives from the stories they pitch and write, incorporating photos, video, audio, maps, timelines, music and more. Along the way, this class will read digital narratives produced by The New York Times, The Atavist, and by respected journalists, and students will be expected to polish their literary journalism skills and interviewing techniques, while adapting those skills for the digital age.
This course aims to be a survey of nonfiction writing about race in the United States of America, from the 19th century to the present. We will examine how writers have tackled issues of racial inequality and discrimination, and constructed narratives centered on the lives of people of color in various nonfiction genres: journalism, investigative reporting, essays, criticism and memoirs. Readings will include works by W.E.B Du Bois, Ida B. Wells, Octavio Paz, Carey McWilliams, Luis Alberto Urrea, Ta-Nehisi Coates and others. As a final requirement, students will produce their own work of cultural criticism or reportage.
This course is for self-starting literary journalism majors, minors and students with journalistic/communications experience who want to prepare for professional opportunities by creating an online portfolio of their work, developing a state-of-the-art resume, turning a longform project into a multimedia effort, writing effective pitch and cover letters, and using social media to promote their professional accomplishments. In class meetings, students will propose a project(s) for the quarter; to pass the course, they will attend every class, show classmates their work-in-progress on a regular basis, examine and discuss exemplars and complete the agreed-upon project(s) successfully.