2017 - Fall

Personal Essay

Course Number: JOUR-GA 1182.006

Day & Time: Wednesday, 10:00am-12:30pm

Location: 654

Instructor: Suketu Mehta

What makes for honest and compelling personal reportage? These are articles or books that are more than simply the writer’s recollection. They take in police reports, or parents’ love letters, or a country’s conflicted history – outside sources which give context to their narrative, while keeping subjectivity, a distinctive voice.
Readers of reported essays are entitled not just to information but to pleasure, and an argument: the pleasure of a well-researched tale, compellingly told using beautiful sentences, leading to a surprising conclusion.
We’ll look at shorter (op-ed length), medium (magazine feature-length) and longer (book-length) examples of reported essays. How much of the author should enter the narrative? What are the challenges of interviewing and fairly narrating the lives of living people whose lives could be changed by your reporting? You will learn, through a mix of writing exercises and longer assignments, how stories, statistics, and statements come together to build the perfect essay.