IA-0236: The Practice of Literary Journalism

The Practice of Literary Journalism: Literary journalism encompasses a variety of genres, including portrait/biography, memoir, and investigation of the social landscape. At its best, literary journalism uses such dramatic devices as plot, characterization, and dialogue to extend and elaborate the who/what/where/when/and why of traditional journalism. By combining evocation with analysis, immersion with investigation, literary journalism tries to reproduce the complex surfaces and depths of the real world. Books to be read will include: (1) Kerrane and Yagoda's Art of Fact; (2) Filkins' Endless War; (3) Malan's My Traitor's Heart; (4) Oliver Sack's Awakenings; (5) Wendy Doniger's The Implied Spider. Students will be asked to write as many as six, medium length nonfiction narratives. These narratives will require participant-observation of local scenes and interview/conversation with the people who inhabit them. Students will then be asked to extend these "short stories" into longer pieces that have casts of "characters" and plots. All fieldwork will demand initiative, patience, curiosity, and guts. The writing itself will have to be excellent. An ability to meet weekly deadlines as well as well-prepared class participation will be required.