With the practice of journalism undergoing its most profound changes since the invention of the television, this course will steep students in the traditions of criticism, literary non-fiction, reporting and cultural journalism that thrived during the golden age of print and have persisted in the Internet era. We’ll work our way through literary criticism from Robert Boswell to Virginia Woolf and from Lionel Trilling to Zadie Smith; we’ll trace how notions of authority in cultural journalism changed from the objective to the subjective and how the New Journalism of the 1960s and 1970s combined facts and research with creative sensibility and author’s voice. Students will discover for themselves through frequent writing assignments and workshops just how porous the boundaries are between traditional reporting, reviewing, profile writing, and more experimental forms like lyric essay. We’ll also listen closely to some of the most influential and innovative podcasts to create an anatomy of their appeal. Expect to read a whole host of literary journalists past and present including George Orwell, Rebecca West, Pauline Kael, Tete-Michel Kpomassie, Janet Malcolm, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Katherine Boo, Alex Tizou, Jia Tolentino, Alex Madrigal.
Corequisites: Students in this class are required to attend Literature evenings on Wednesday nights, including Poetry at Bennington events. All students may apply for multiple 4000-level Reading and Writing Courses in the same term, but, once accepted, may only enroll in one 4000-level Reading and Writing course per term.