2014 - Spring: Journalism Seminar: The Journalism of Empathy

Course Number: JOUR-UA 401.001

Day & Time: T 11:00am - 1:30pm

Location: 20 Cooper, 7th floor library (rm. 700)

Instructor: Ted Conover

Empathy in narrative has roots in some of the earliest written stories—what is a literary character, after all, if not an imagining of the the world through someone else’s eyes? But empathy is not exclusively the tool of novelists and playwrights. In our time, journalists such as Alex Kotlowitz, Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, Anne Fadiman, Jon Krakauer, Susan Orlean, Sebastian Junger, and Katherine Boo (and earlier, John Hersey and others) have used a fiercely empathetic approach to create powerful nonfiction narratives, sometimes with social justice concerns. This course will survey the history and recent practice of empathetic nonfiction, using seminal readings as models for your own writing and reporting. In other words, it’s a reading course and an article-writing course: Assignments will require original reporting and offer a chance to experiment with elements of narrative writing such as setting scenes, developing character, dialog, conflict, and, when appropriate, the first person voice.