Prospective applicants, please read this letter from Lit Rep Program Director Robert Boynton
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.
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.
Here are some of the final projects Literary Reportage students have produced in our first three years:
Literary Reportage Master Class
The Fall 2014 Literary Reportage Master Class was taught by Sasha Weiss, the literary editor of Newyorker.com. 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.com, The Paris Review, Tablet, and elsewhere.
Patrick Arden (Lit Rep '09) has won the 2013 Richard J. Margolis Award.
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.
Portfolio 2007 Alumna Sabine Heinlein wins the 2011 Richard J. Margolis award.
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.
Lit Rep 2011 student Patrick Arden wins multiple awards for his piece on NYC's "fake grass gamble."
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