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.
Narrative writing provides the foundation for much of what we call literary journalism. Writers in this field want to tell stories. They want to bring to nonfiction the sense of inner life usually found only in novels. How to write nonfiction prose that adopts the aims and techniques of the finest fiction? How to tell tales that read as if they were nonfiction short stories? These will be the central questions students in this class face. Students will look to nonfiction writers such as Gay Talese, Joan Didion and Michael Paterniti. Students will also do a good deal of their own narrative writing. 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 vignette, a character sketch and a major example of narrative writing.
The Art of Fact is an advanced writing workshop about storytelling with facts. It is about making true stories, scrupulously reported, as engaging as any novel or mini-series. Using some of the tools of fiction -- scenes, dialogue, rounded characters, the development of theme and conflict -- students will endeavor to produce factual stories that transcend the news. Students will learn how the same narrative strategies that make "Harry Potter" and "Breaking Bad" so engaging lie at the heart of the best newspaper and magazine stories. Students will practice advanced reporting techniques, and analyze exemplars of literary journalism, with an eye toward applying the lessons to their own work.
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.
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.
From Herodutus until today, accounts of travel and unfamiliar societies have found audiences. In the 20th Century, such accounts, literary journalism in particular, were largely produced by British and American writers; world travel doesn’t come cheap and the resources and concerns of two global hegemons provided a steady market. Journalists from elsewhere had fewer opportunities: for example, the great Polish journalist, Ryszard Kapuscinski, was his country’s sole correspondent in Africa for two decades. Yet despite these obstacles, writers outside the dominant tradition continue to produce remarkable journalism, while writers within the tradition use travel to question their own country’s assumptions. In this course, we will explore the ways in which writers including Che Guevara, Kapuscinski, Alma Guillermoprieto, V.S. Naipaul, and others challenge the assumptions of the master narratives.