Program Overview: Undergraduate Major and Minor, Lecture Series and Conferences, and Publications

The Literary Journalism Program is home to the Literary Journalism major and, as of 2013, the Literary Journalism minor

In conjunction with the Department of History, Literary Journalism also coordinates the Conversations on Writing & Public Life lecture series and, with the UCI School of Law, the Forum for the Academy and the Public.

Literary Journalism is home to the Digital Storytelling Conference and publishes a digital magazine, Kiosk.

The Literary Journalism Major

The Literary Journalism major was created to meet the needs of a growing number of students who wish to read, study and write nonfiction prose that has transcended the limits of daily journalism.  This is prose that has evolved into a distinct branch of literature, prose that adopts the aims and techniques of the finest fiction. As studied in our program, Literary Journalism also includes longform writing such as reported essays, investigative feature writing, podcasts, documentaries, in-depth social analysis and first-person writing. It is immersive storytelling rooted in deep reporting, research, reflection and observation.  The program provides majors with a solid foundation in nonfiction writing and an equally solid background in areas such as reporting and literary history, which together will help make them more informed writers. 

Literary journalism is a field of study known by varying names, including creative nonfiction, the literature of fact, literary nonfiction and longform journalism. There are anthologies devoted to it, and many colleges offer courses in it or feature it as an option within their majors. UCI's program builds on existing departmental strengths: its nationally ranked programs in creative writing, literature and literary theory. Literary Journalism majors take three intensive writing seminars, and are expected to develop a portfolio of work by graduation which they can present as evidence of their skill for purposes of employment or future education.

At the same time, majors are asked to take a comprehensive look at the theory, history and context of literary journalism. Among other forms, they study and write narratives, memoirs, profiles, histories and personal essays, in subject areas as varied as science, politics, justice, race, travel, sports, food and popular culture. They use as models a multitude of writers that represent the foundations of Literary Journalism, ranging from Daniel Defoe and Stephen Crane to Ida B. Wells, Nellie Bly, George Orwell, John Hersey, James Baldwin, Lillian Ross, Joseph Mitchell, Gay Talese, John McPhee, Joan Didion, Janet Malcolm, Tom Wolfe, Truman Capote and Norman Mailer. 

Students also study the work of contemporary writers who engage with the current moment or have emerged from the changing media landscape, including Ta-Nehisi Coates, Atul Gawande, Laura Hillenbrand, Svetlana Alexievich, Suki Kim, Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Alex Tizon, Susan Orlean, Sonia Nazario, Katherine Boo, Isabel Wilkerson, Pamela Colloff, Rebecca Traister, Leslie Jamison, Jia Tolentino, and Roxane Gay. 

While it differs from an applied journalism major that focuses primarily on newspaper writing, the major in Literary Journalism is excellent preparation for students planning to enter graduate programs in journalism, as well as for those interested in the many careers requiring sophisticated writing, storytelling and communication skills.

For more details on the specific courses offered, see the 'Courses' section of the site.