Course Descriptions


Fall Quarter

Dept Course No and Title Instructor
This workshop will require all your strengths as a journalist and writer. In it, we'll try to explore what constitutes a "culture," and how cultures are described. By "culture," we don't mean a nation-state's entire nexus of history, art, politics and social structure, but rather a localized and micro-ized version of that complex. So we won't be writing broadly about subjects like Southern California or Orange County. In fact, the biggest cultural nexus we might look at would be, say, Rancho Santa Margarita. But the best subjects for us will be micro-communities: small, organized groups of people who share a common goal. For example: a fraternity, a radio station, an orchestra, a team, a social group, a prayer group, a theatrical group, a chorale, a restaurant, a fashion blog office, a food truck, a bank branch, a dance group, a funeral home, a mani-pedi shop, a horse-riding stable, a Costco store, a gas station.... In the workshop, writers will choose their subject and then try to explain its culture and how it works by finding characters and a narrative. This workshop will be part anthropology, part immersion, and part cultural criticism. Among those we will be reading are Joan Didion, Hunter Thompson, Norman Mailer, Vanessa Grigoriadis, Andre Leon Talley, Susan Orlean, Tom Wolfe, and Katherine Boo.
LJ 198 is a four-unit group independent study taken for a grade or pass/no pass in which we compile, edit, and design the annual issue of Kiosk: A Magazine of Literary Journalism and organize and produce the annual Readings from Kiosk event, held every winter quarter in Week 2.  Students will gain hands-on experience with editing, copy-editing, fact-checking, story selection and evaluation, and collaborating with an editorial board.  Students will also learn about legal and ethical concerns specific to publishing narrative nonfiction.  Students will also gain experience with the WordPress publishing platform, web design, graphic design, and event design and promotion.  This course is open to students of all majors, levels, and degrees of publishing experience.
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.
No detailed description available.
In this class, we will read deeply reported and researched medical narratives written
by journalists about science, psychology and healthcare. Although these nonfiction pieces
will at times draw from scientific and medical studies, at their heart they will be stories
about people: patients, families, nurses, physicians, scientists, mental health workers, and
sometimes also the journalists behind these stories. We will discuss how writers untangle
complex and sensitive subjects: mysteries of the mind, death and dying, diseases, disorders
and surgical procedures--to present them in compelling ways. How does a journalist report
for details that evoke empathy? How does a medical question become a true mystery? A
tragedy? A hero's journey? How do writers preserve the narrative voice when translating
medical terminology? When do they rely on the first-person or essayist's voice? How do
some journalists reconstruct or become fly-on-the-wall reporters inside of hospitals and
healthcare facilities? What ethical complications arise when writing about the ill, the
dying, and the hospitalized? In this class, we will read works by Atul Gawande,
Oliver Sacks, Leslie Jamison, Jean Marie Laskas, Anne Fadiman, and Sheri Fink, among others.
We will also incorporate medical narratives from podcasts and radio narrative programs like
Radiolab, This American Life and Invisibilia.
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.
No detailed description available.
The essence of feature writing is storytelling. In this class we will study the art of storytelling. We will focus on ledes, transitions, narrative flow, character development and story structure. Each week, we will study a different aspect of narrative writing. Several guest speakers, accomplished newspaper and magazine writers, will visit the class and describe their techniques. Because the key to literary journalism is great reporting, we will emphasize the practical elements of feature writing and will study interviewing and reporting techniques. Students will hone their craft by writing. Aspiring feature writers, however, cannot improve their writing simply by writing. Extensive reading is a must. As a result, reading features stories and analyzing feature writing will be an important part of this class. Students will write two stories: a profile and an in-depth feature.
True crime, at its best, it not just about cops and killers, but can tell us much about the world in which we live. While the crimes may animate the narratives – which make for gripping reading – the best books transcend the genre by giving readers a strong sense of place,an insight into the criminal mind, a window into the cops’ world, a feel for the agony of the victims, and the impact on the community. Every crime contains three major players that provide the cornerstone for compelling character studies: a perpetrator, a victim, and an investigator. In this class we will discuss the ethnical challenges true crime writers encounter, the difficulties they face during the reporting, and the decisions they make during the writing. We will explore the psychology of criminals; the effect their behavior has on society, the legal world and the criminal justice system; and the social implications of their crimes. Homicide detectives, former prison inmates, and true crime writers will visit the class, give presentations and answer questions. Some writers whose works we will read include David Grann, Norman Mailer, and John Berendt.