2014 - Fall
Course Number: JOUR-GA 1231.001
Day & Time: Thursday, 10:00am-1:40pm
Great stories are shaped by talented, reckless, funny, arrogant and often misanthropic writers and reporters working at the height of their craft. In this class, we will study how world-shaking historical events and everyday experiences alike can be crafted into original journalistic narratives. We will concentrate on the writer’s angle of approach to the subject – his or her ÒvoiceÓ – which is made more or less convincing through his or her control over language and the depth and range of his/her reporting. The first half of each class will consist of close readings of nonfiction narratives on Balkan wars, acid trips, nervous breakdowns, rock and roll concerts, a sarin gas attack in the Tokyo subways, a visit to the Iowa State Fair and assorted other subjects by some of my favorite journalists and novelists including Tom Wolfe, Joan Didion, David Foster Wallace, Denis Johnson, Rebecca West, Ryszard Kapucinski, Haruki Murakami, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Joseph Mitchell. Each class will begin promptly at 12:30 PM and will be divided between an hour and thirty minute discussion of the assigned reading and an hour and fifteen minute discussion of your written work. Latecomers will be greeted with derision. We will break at 2 PM for afternoon snack. We will also enjoy visits from enlivening and informative guests from Harper’s, The New Yorker and other high-class venues, who can answer any questions you might have about reporting and editing, and who will help you shape your ideas with an eye towards publishing your own work.