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  Michael Lesy, professor of literary journalism, author of cult classic Wisconsin Death Trip, and 2006 USA Fellow, shares some of his thoughts on storytelling, truth-telling, and the classroom.

The Hampshire College system of inquiry-based learning helps develop the independence of thought and the analytical skills necessary to become a good journalist.

Courses in literary journalism use workshops to help students learn to write and to critique narrative nonfiction—the “long-form journalism” that is integral to twenty-first century reporting.

Through the flexibility of Hampshire’s academic program, journalism concentrators can take courses not only in reading, writing, or photographic journalism, but in the specific fields they want to write about.

Affiliated Faculty

Student Project Titles

  • » Visits to a “Pious House”: The Present and History of St. Francis Convent
  • » “Seek Good, and Not Evil, That Ye May Live”
  • » Tilting at Giants: a Radio Documentary
  • » John Mac: A Journalistic Ethnography of the Next Dead Blues Man
  • » Jesus Rock to Vietnam Blues: A Series of Radio Documentaries about Untraditional Music in Maine
  • » Moving Through: The First Year After Spinal Cord Injury
  • » On Pins and Needles: Stories of Women Coming of Age
  • » Video Games in Culture, Culture in Video Games: An Analysis Through Journalism
  • » Watch This Space: Nonfiction Narratives from South Africa

Sample First-Year Course


The content of popular media--news, feature films, recorded music--is the product of people’s labor. Bringing specialized skills to bear on complex technology, usually in the context of a formal organization, media workers create cultural products on an almost continuous basis. This course explores this process of cultural production, with a focus on the division of labor among media workers. Students will study selected media industry sectors, such as journalism, motion pictures, book publishing and popular music. The goal will be to understand the distribution of power and authority in the content production process. This may require some attention to the structure of media ownership and the legacy of organized labor. But mainly students will investigate the actual work and production routines that result in media content. .

Sample Courses at Hampshire

  • » Exporting American Journalism
  • » Freedom of Expression
  • » Introduction to Media Criticism
  • » Introduction to Media Production: Images of War
  • » Irony, Agency, and Ideology in Popular Culture
  • » Journalism in Crisis
  • » Literary Journalism
  • » Mediawork
  • » Newswork
  • » The Past Recaptured: Photographs, Facts, and Fictions
  • » The Photography of History: Bearing Witness to America’s Great Depression
  • » The Practice of Literary Journalism
  • » Radio Journalism
  • » Rave Reviews
  • » The Sporting Life
  • » Writing About the Outdoors

Through the Consortium

  • » Covering Race (UMass)
  • » Intro to Journalism (UMass)
  • » Journalism Ethics (UMass)
  • » Newswriting and Reporting (UMass)
  • » Politics of Language (SC)
  • » The Press and the Third World (UMass)
  • » Readings in Literary Biography (MHC)
  • » Topic: Opinion Journalism (MHC)
  • » Writing Pop Culture (UMass)

Facilities and Resources

Writing Center

Hampshire campus has a Writing Center that is open to all students at the college. The center is available to help students with writing skills—from brainstorming to drafting cohesive paragraphs to writing a final paper. Students can use the center for one-time only assistance or on a regular basis. The Writing Center also offers classes and workshops in writing and writing skills.

Student Publications

The Hampshire campus has many opportunities for students interested in writing for a larger audience, such as: The Climax (a student newspaper), The Omen (a student magazine), and The Reader (literary/photo magazine). The Pioneer Valley is also home to many media outlets at which Hampshire students have interned, including the local National Public Radio Affiliate, WFCR; The Advocate, a progressive weekly newspaper with a special interest in the arts; The Daily Republican, the Springfield newspaper; and The Hampshire Gazette, a local newspaper based in Northampton.

Five College Consortium

The Five College consortium hosts a diverse and vibrant literary community. Students can attend readings, book signings, and lectures by visiting and resident literary lights, such as Eleni Sikelianos, Patricia MacLachlan, Martin Espada, Wally Lamb, Mark Costello, and Aleida Rodriguez. The Annual Five College Student PoetryFest features outstanding poets from each of the consortium schools, and the WORD! Festival provides a venue for student-written plays dealing with issues of race and diversity.


Contact Us

Office of the Dean of Faculty
Hampshire College
893 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002
Fax 413.559.6081

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