Course Number: JOUR-GA 1281.001
Day & Time: Tuesday, 6-9:40pm
Instructor: Ben Ratliff
This is an advanced course in the reading and practice of the long-form essay, which means nonfiction-with-a-thesis on a cultural topic that is longer than a brief review and shorter than a big book: essentially, swimming in a lake, as opposed to in a pool or an ocean. It consists of the readings below, class discussions, and the production of one long essay by the end of the semester, for which you will do two drafts.
We will be reading various kinds of work—a critical reading of a single artist; commentary and New Journalism on cultural-social-political themes; personal essays; lyric essays; polemics. Among the names below are famous critics, as well as writers known primarily as journalists, novelists, historians or poets. I have made an effort to include some very recent writing here as well as what’s old and established. Our focus here is “criticism,” in a broad sense, but through the term we will be looking at how a writer can turn an argument and thesis into a narrative that makes a reader want to keep reading. We will separate and identify the qualities that make all these pieces sing: thesis, tone, rhythm, rhetorical style, counterintuitive thinking, vocabulary, confidence, authority, evidence, tight or loose focus, trustworthiness, daring.