2016 - Spring: Writing for Wide Readership

Course Number: JOUR-GA 60.001

Day & Time: Thursday, 11:30am-1:30pm

Location: 7th Floor Library

Instructor: Tunku Varadarajan

Sponsored by The NYU  Reynolds Program in Social Entrepreneurship and the NYU Wagner School of Public Service.

Expressly designed for graduate students outside of Journalism and FAS.

Writing for A Wide Readership is grounded in the idea that scholars can engage the world. The purpose of the course is to help you learn how to write for the public — people outside your academic discipline. You will strive to produce writing that is scholarly and rigorous, but never jargon-riddled or obscure: accessible to readers who have never been to graduate school, and compelling to people with little previous knowledge of its subject.

This class is a workshop, meaning that you will have several writing assignments during the semester. You must come to class prepared not only to discuss your own work, but also to evaluate your classmates’ writing.

The writing assignment will be due on the day before class. You will email it to me (and post it on Blackboard), and print out the works under discussion for the upcoming class. (The discussion will be more fruitful if everyone is looking at your text.) A workshop schedule will be determined at the beginning of the semester, so you will always know whose work we are reading. Not every piece you write will be discussed in class, but I will make sure that everyone gets equal access to class feedback.

Class participation is 25% of your grade. The other 75% is based on your writing. Revision is perhaps the most critical (and for many students, most challenging) part of this process; if you get stuck, contact me! I am available by appointment, and always available on email.

On writing topics: Choose topics about which you are not only enthusiastic, but also expert. If possible, practice writing on the same issue using different forms and styles. Some of you will write personal essays. Others may prefer more traditionally journalistic or scholarly approaches. All strategies are encouraged as long as they compel us to keep reading. You’re encouraged to write the op-ed and the 1500-word article on the same subject.

Readings will be available in links from the syllabus, posted on Blackboard, emailed to you, or distributed in class.

This course will be taught by Tunku Varadarajan, former editor of both The Wall Street Journal’s Op-ed section and Newsweek International. He is a writer-at-large at the Daily Beast and a research fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution.