RCCORE 100 - First Year Seminar
Section: 010 Truth Through Story: the Art and Craft of Narrative Journalism
Term: FA 2009
Subject: RC Core Courses (RCCORE)
Department: LSA Residential College
Credits:
4
Requirements & Distribution:
FYWR
Consent:
With permission of instructor.
Advisory Prerequisites:
SWC Writing Assessment. Only first-year students, including those with sophomore standing, may pre-register for First-Year Seminars. All others need permission of instructor.
Repeatability:
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

“Of the many definitions of story, the simplest may be this. It is a piece of writing that makes the reader want to find out what happens next.” --Bill Buford

It’s been called gonzo journalism, new journalism, literary nonfiction, and feature writing. Its practitioners have hung out with motorcycle gangs, jumped on empty freight cars, worked as kitchen slaves, and trekked through Florida swamps with an accused orchid thief—all in the interest of writing a telling story. Narrative journalism encompasses a range of styles and has gone by a number of names. But fundamentally it is rigorous interview- and observation-based journalism that goes beyond the facts and employs all five senses to consciously—and artfully—tell a story. According to Mitchell Zukoff, a reporter for The Boston Globe, the elements of narrative journalism “aren't much different than what works in any good story: a plot with inherent tension, well-developed characters, [and] a theme that transcends the immediate story to capture something universal.”
In this seminar, we will explore and experiment with the differences between traditional news writing and narrative journalism. We will read masters of the craft—such as Truman Capote, Joan Didion, Tracy Kidder, and Susan Orlean—and analyze their styles and what makes their work effective. We will examine ethical questions, including the legitimacy of reconstructing scenes the reporter didn’t witness, and the importance of maintaining proper boundaries with sources. We will also consider pitfalls that have tripped up some journalists, such as fictionalization and the creation of composite characters. In the process, we will focus on the craft of narrative journalism. In-class exercises will sharpen your skills with dialogue, description, tone, and voice. We will discuss how to generate story ideas, refine interviewing techniques, and organize material into narratives with a clear beginning, middle, and end. This will be a reading- and writing-intensive course; in addition to reflections on readings, students will write three narrative pieces with first and final drafts. All writings will be revised with the help of in-class writing workshops. We’ll devote much of the last third of the semester to researching, writing, and revising your final enterprise piece.

RCCORE 100 - First Year Seminar
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
P
20291
Open
2
2RC Ugrd
-
TuTh 2:00PM - 3:30PM
002 (SEM)
P
20293
Open
2
2RC Ugrd
-
MW 4:00PM - 5:30PM
003 (SEM)
P
22943
Open
1
1RC Ugrd
-
WF 11:00AM - 1:00PM
004 (SEM)
P
25635
Closed
0
 
-
TuTh 3:00PM - 5:00PM
005 (SEM)
P
25637
Closed
0
 
-
TuTh 2:00PM - 3:30PM
006 (SEM)
P
25639
Closed
0
 
-
TuTh 11:30AM - 1:00PM
M 7:00PM - 9:00PM
007 (SEM)
P
25641
Open
1
1RC Ugrd
-
TuTh 3:00PM - 4:30PM
008 (SEM)
P
25643
Closed
0
 
-
TuTh 3:00PM - 4:30PM
009 (SEM)
P
25645
Closed
0
 
-
TuTh 3:00PM - 4:30PM
010 (SEM)
P
25647
Closed
0
 
-
MW 3:00PM - 4:30PM
011 (SEM)
P
37073
Closed
0
 
-
MW 3:00PM - 4:30PM
012 (SEM)
P
31485
Closed
0
 
-
MW 11:00AM - 12:30PM
014 (SEM)
P
29191
Open
1
1RC Ugrd
-
MW 11:00AM - 12:30PM
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.


Coursepack Location:
Excel, 1117 South University above Ulrich's
ISBN: 9780060891541
On writing well : the classic guide to writing nonfiction, Author: William Zinsser., Publisher: HarperCollins 30. annive 2007
Required
ISBN: 0679745580
In cold blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences, Author: Truman Capote., Publisher: Vintage Books 1st Vintag 1993
Required
Other Textbook Editions OK.
ISBN: 0375708049
Joe Gould's secret, Author: Joseph Mitchell., Publisher: Vintage Books 1st Vintag 1999
Required
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