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First-Year Writing Seminar: Fictions on the Record: Journalism, Literature, and Their Claims to Truth

Semester and Year FA 2017
Course Number FIRST-UG429
Section 001
Instructor Daniel Howell
Days TR
Time 9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
Units 4
Level U


Open to Gallatin first-year students only.


Literature tends to be seen as a space for dynamic aesthetic experimentation and critical thought. But journalistic texts are rarely granted the same transcendence. How, then, can journalism be read as literature? This seminar examines the relationship between journalism and literature in the Americas, Europe, and the Middle East. Coursework is centered on the following questions: what claims to truth are at work in narrative fiction versus journalistic storytelling? Are certain kinds of fictional and nonfictional accounts better positioned than others to take up political, aesthetic, and philosophical concerns? How have literature and journalism historically interacted with, and reacted to, each other? For the final paper, students will produce a critical analysis of a nonfiction text, incorporating scholarly sources. Shorter writing assignments will encourage students to experiment with the narrative styles we encounter, and to reflect critically on how their own writing constructs its particular claims to truth. Readings may include excerpts from the work of: Joan Didion, Ellen Willis, John McPhee, Gabriel García Márquez, Joe Sacco, Elias Khoury, Roland Barthes, Walter Benjamin, Rodolfo Walsh, Truman Capote, Oliver Sacks, Francisco Goldman, Elena Poniatowska, and Óscar Martínez.


All Syllabi

Course Type

First-Year Program: Writing Seminars (FIRST-UG)