Prospective applicants, please read this letter from Lit Rep Program Director Robert Boynton

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About the Program

Journalism schools produce good reporters; MFA programs train beautiful writers. In the Literary Reportage concentration, we combine the best of both. Our students pursue their own long form projects, mentored by veteran writers in reporting classes, literature seminars, writing workshops and master classes taught by working editors.

Reporting is at the center of everything Literary Reportage students do. Whether you want to write a memoir, an expose, a portrait of a person or place, an extended consideration on the subject of your passion, it all starts with reporting. We’ll teach you how to do what Tom Wolfe once termed “stylish reporting.” Many writing programs teach memoir, and that's something you can do in Literary Reportage, as well. The difference here is that we stress reporting – adding value to personal experience by collecting relevant information from the world outside one's head. Did your sister join a cult? Part of your mission would be to learn about the cult, past and present. Are there acquaintances from days gone by who could help set a remembered story in context? Part of your job might be to find them. That way, when you sit down to fashion your narrative, you'll have a richer set of materials to work with.You will then channel that reporting into well-researched, compelling narratives, which you will publish in professional venues while at NYU and, of course, beyond.

How do you apply? Like an aspiring novelist who submits short stories to an MFA program in the hopes of writing a novel, you submit a sample of your existing work (articles, blogs, videos, podcasts, essays--published or not), and a description of what you want to do while at NYU, whether a specific project or a kind of project. Think big, but also think concretely: What particular works or authors have inspired you and your project? What journalistic forms could you imagine it taking? What models do you have in mind?

Projects can be local, national, or international in scope. But since much of your reporting will be done while in residence at NYU, your project should have an NYC dimension. Some students divide their time between their final international or national project and its local iterations. In addition, access is important. You can’t report on a subject if your subject won’t talk to you. We’ll help you as much as we can, but there are some worlds, like Hollywood, that simply can’t be covered by NYC-based reporters.

We don’t care if you change your mind later – experimentation is part of the idea. That goes for form, as well: Some Literary Reportage students want to write books, others want to write articles. Some want to combine podcasts, video, books and articles. We will teach you how to work in all of these forms. We’ll teach you how to use the technology (come visit and see our high tech facilities), whether in semester-long classes or intensive, week-long workshops. (All Literary Reportage students take a month-long, non-credit introductory multimedia course covering video, audio, slideshow and web skills.) But the most important thing we teach is how think in terms of “stories.” Rigorously reported, well-researched, imaginative, artfully written stories.


How does Literary Reportage work?

The courses are divided between journalism seminars and writing workshops. The first semester leans toward the former, while the remaining semesters leans toward the latter. For an overview of the curriculum click here.

Literary Reportage became a full-fledged concentration in 2009, growing out of the Portfolio honors track, in which students learned how to build a coherent body of work over the course of two semesters. It worked well, and we suspected it would work even better if students applied with projects already in mind and had more time to complete their work.

How does Literary Reportage differ from other the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute’s other concentrations and programs? Our applicants must apply with a project in mind and, like the Global program, Literary Reportage students produce a master’s project in their fourth and final semester, during which you need not be in residence.


Final Projects

Here are some of the final projects Literary Reportage students have produced in our first three years:

  • "We Were All Going To Be Queens," a reported memoir about the Catholic cult Regnum Christi
  • "Ballerina 2.0," about dancer Drew Jacoby's use of new media for self-promotion
  • "Mother of Invention,” a reported memoir about a single woman's decision to have a child
  • “On Trails,” a meditation on the twists and turns of human navigation
  • “Alone in America,” a report on Korean students studying abroad
  • “Sikhing for God,” a report on a New Mexican yoga cult
  • “Wrecking the House that Ruth Built,” a proposal, sample chapter and outline for a book about corruption and Yankee Stadium
  • “Christianity 2.0,” a report on home worship and the reaction against the mega-church phenomenon
  • “When the Facts of Life Aren’t Facts,” a report on sex education for students with special needs


Literary Reportage Master Class

The Fall 2014 Literary Reportage Master Class was taught by Sasha Weiss, the literary editor of Before  Before coming to The New Yorker, she was an editor at The New York Review of Books.  Her writing has appeared on the Newyorker.comThe Paris Review, Tablet, and elsewhere.



Upcoming Events

Program News

A conversation about the future of literary reportage with Roberto Herrscher at Jorge University, Zaragoza, Spain, June 2015

Congratulations to Natalie Lampert

Winner of the 2015 Postgraduate scholarship from the Kentucky Women Writers Conference.

Read More >


Congratulations to:

Laura Smith, Literary Reportage
Kristian Jebsen, Magazine

Kristian Jebsen and Laura Smith, graduate students at New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, are two of 12 journalism students and young journalists chosen by FASPE (Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics) to participate in a two-week program that will take place this summer in Germany and Poland.

View the Press Release >


Patrick Arden (Lit Rep '09) has won the 2013 Richard J. Margolis Award.

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The Banff Center Announces Fully Funded Fellowship

The Banff Centre for the Arts and the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute are pleased to announce a fully funded fellowship for students in, and alumni of, the Literary Reportage concentration.  The fellowship offers an opportunity to develop a major essay, memoir, or feature piece during a month-long residency. Writers will work on their manuscript during weekly consultations with faculty editors, and round-table discussions with the other participants. By placing writers in a situation designed to challenge and stimulate their creativity, the program encourages the exploration of new ideas in journalism and experimentation with writing a piece that might otherwise be difficult to complete. The fellowship covers round trip airfare to Banff, and food and lodging during the month at the Banff Centre for the Arts.

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Portfolio 2007 Alumna Sabine Heinlein wins the 2011 Richard J. Margolis award.

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Lit Rep 2011 student Robert Moor wins Middlebury College Fellowship in Environmental Journalism.

The program supports intensive, year-long reporting about environmental issues. Moor’s project: Trails — topographical and cognitive — in contemporary society, human culture and the mind.

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Lit Rep 2011 student Patrick Arden wins multiple awards for his piece on NYC's "fake grass gamble."

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My time at the Banff Centre was incredible, and I feel remarkably lucky to have participated in the Literary Journalism Program. This fellowship provided me with the necessary structure, freedom, and support to create a piece that I might not have completed otherwise­—in my case, a piece of challenging, personal writing. Besides room and board, the Centre gives each writer a private cabin in the forested Leighton Artists’ Colony, and plenty of time to write... I did not want to leave.

Cody Upton, recipient of the NYU/Banff Fellowship, Lit Rep '13

Byline - Recent Publications

Pacific Standard Chasing the Fluency Gods October 08, 2015 Kate Newman
Lit Rep '15
Mic Philadelphia Transgender Woman Kiesha Jenkins Gunned Down Tuesday Morning October 07, 2015 Mathew Rodriguez
Lit Rep 2017
OnFaith My Uncomfortable Audience with the Pope October 02, 2015 Kate Essig
Literary Reportage 2017
The Daily Beast There’s No Hallmark Card for Miscarriage. She’s Changing That. October 01, 2015 Natalie Lampert
Literary Reportage 2016
Mic Meet Rinna Rem, the Asian Woman Who Asked Her White Friends to Pay for Her Therapy October 01, 2015 Mathew Rodriguez
Lit Rep 2017
The New Republic My Mother Was a Colonel September 26, 2015 Natalie Lampert
Literary Reportage 2016
Bedford+Bowery This Eid, Have Your Lamb Slaughtered With the Click of a Button September 25, 2015 Sarah Aziza
Literary Reportage 2017
The Straddler Gentrification of the Queer Bedroom September 24, 2015 Mathew Rodriguez
Lit Rep 2017
Life of the Law Who’s the Criminal? September 22, 2015 Nicole Pasulka
Lit Rep 2014
Mic Meet the Muslim Students Who Have Been Harassed at School for Less Than a Clock September 17, 2015 Mathew Rodriguez
Lit Rep 2017
Metroactive Conservation Meets Tech At Nerds for Nature September 09, 2015 Lindsey Smith
Literary Reportage 2016
Nautilus The Dawn of Life in a $5 Toaster Oven August 27, 2015 Johnny Bontemps
Literary Reportage 2014
San Jose Inside Advances in Robotic Surgeries Lead to Higher Demand Despite Marketing, Regulation Concerns August 27, 2015 Lindsey Smith
Literary Reportage 2016
The Body The Silent Struggle of HIV Treatment Adherence August 26, 2015 Mathew Rodriguez
Lit Rep 2017
The New Yorker Why the Most Popular Hiking Memoirs Don’t Go the Distance August 21, 2015 Robert Moor
Lit Rep 2011
Tablet Straight Outta Brooklyn, by Way of Vermont: The Bernie Sanders Story August 20, 2015 Jas Chana
Literary Reportage 2016