2014 - Fall

Advanced Reporting: The Quest

Course Number: JOUR-UA 301.002

Day & Time: Monday 4:55pm-8:35pm

Location: 20 Cooper Square, room 654

Instructor: Jessica Seigel

Prerequisites: Foundations, The Beat

This is the Capstone course. Subject matter varies from section to section, but the basic skeleton of the course is the same across sections: the emphasis is on development of the ability to produce writing and reporting within a sophisticated longform story structure. The course involves query writing, topic research and reading, interviewing, and repeated drafts and rewrites, leading to a full-length piece of writing aimed at a publishable level and the ability of the student to present the reporting orally.

Advanced Reporting: The Quest

The quest is at the heart of our greatest stories, from Odysseus returning home to reporter Nellie Bly’s race around the world in less than 80 days. In this course, students plot their own journey, inspired by classics old and new. We’ll learn quest hallmarks like the role of obstacles, character, location, guides, gurus and skeptics, doubt and myth – and all-important narrative structure using present, past, future, suspense and flashback.

Students warm up for their 3,000-word magazine package in linked features that may include themes like The Place, The Guide, The Big Dare, Fish Out of Water, and In-The-Footsteps. Throughout, we’ll work on balancing first with third person, detailed reporting with personal experience — all while finding your authentic voice. Past student seekers have learned to motorcycle, studied stand-up comedy, overcome an addiction, lived with the homeless and hunted literary and historic myths from J.D. Salinger’s New York to hidden Grand Central Station. What’s your Holy Grail? In this class, you may find it.

THE QUEST SPIRIT: This semester, we will pursue group and individual odysseys. It is crucial that everyone participate in both. In that spirit, you will be asked to set your personal goals for the semester in writing. You will also be asked to actively contribute and shape how we move forward as a group. This is an experimental, first-time format blending ancient and modern literature with contemporary journalism, so everyone will be asked to row on our maiden voyage.


Professor Bio: Jessica Seigel has covered arts, business and technology as a columnist and staffer for The Chicago Tribune, Brill’s Content and Pink Magazine. Her start-up, fashion, and tech coverage has also appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Marketplace Public Radio and NPR.