Course Descriptions


Winter 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.
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.
The "New Journalism" that began to appear in the 1960s was far from "new." Writers have long strived to craft nonfiction that adopts the aims, techniques and standards of the finest fiction. In this course students will study some of those writers, among them Stephen Crane, Jack London and George Orwell. Students will then look at how the early pioneers inspired and influenced later literary journalists such as John Hersey, Lillian Ross, A.J. Liebling, Joseph Mitchell, Truman Capote, Gay Talese, Tom Wolfe and Michael Herr. At each stage, our central focus will be the evolution of ethics in literary journalism. Covenants with readers versus covenants with subjects; fundamental truth versus factual accuracy; the blurred lines between fiction and journalism; entering the minds of your characters; reconstructing past events; imposing meaning by seeing /stories/ in situations---literary journalists wrestle with these issues constantly. So will we in this course.
In this class, we will read heavily reported and researched medical narratives written by journalists about science, technology and healthcare. Although these nonfiction pieces will draw from scientific and medical studies, at the 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 mystery? A tragedy? How do writers translate medical terminology into narrative voice?  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.
Immersion journalism is a demanding, intensive form of reporting that takes writers deep into the worlds of their subjects. This kind of work demands much of the writer, but the rewards are great. Those who embark on immersion projects can transcend the bounds of traditional journalism and imbue their stories with the kind of detail, drama, texture and dialogue featured in the best of fiction. Because writers are with their subjects for extended periods of time, they can avoid the artifice and superficiality of many traditional feature stories, and provide truly in-depth accounts. This kind of reporting can yield remarkable dialogue and drama and provides startling insights into characters' worlds and personalities, as well as expose injustice and inequality. 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. A number of renowned writers will visit the class and talk about how they research and write. Immersion journalism is storytelling at its most direct. We will start with the most elemental aspect of immersion journalism: How to get access. We will then explore who are the best subjects are for immersion projects and how to construct stories. By the end of the quarter students will have written two stories: a short immersion project and a magazine-length article.
Who says long-form journalism is dying? It is evolving. In this class, we will explore and debate the future of books, magazines, newspapers, writers, and publishers in a digital age. Students will read first-rate pieces from journalists who have published digitally or are incorporating new media, videos, blogs, e-readers and podcasts into reading experiences. This class will be heavily focused on reading and discussions, and students will be expected to think about how traditional storytelling might change as reading formats evolve. We will discuss questions like: Will the book go the way of the CD or record? Will articles soon solely be distributed through models akin to the "I-Tunes of Literature?" Is that a financially viable model? Is there a bad guy in the war between Amazon and Barnes & Noble? What roles do organizations like Instapaper, Longreads, Goodreads, and ReaditLater play in this evolving era? How can writers make money through new long-form journalism platforms like The Atavist, Byliner, and Kindle Singles — and above all how can the quality and integrity of such writing continue to be preserved as it is produced, sold, and read? This class will meet twice weekly and reading assignments will be distributed through the new Literary Journalism Program LJ Digital blog on Tumblr. Students will not only dissect digital stories for each class, analyzing them for narrative arc, scenes, voice, characters, theme, and reporting, but they will also be expected to come up with their own proposals on how to make reading experiences stronger and more successful in this digital age.
Legal Narratives is a lecture class that explores how journalists mine the legal system, from murder trials to divorce court, for material with which to build stories. Readings will include a wide variety of newspaper and magazine stories which rely on courtroom access and/or legal documents.
Please visit this page again soon for an updated course description.