ENGLISH 425 - Advanced Essay Writing
Fall 2013, Section 004 - Immersion Writing: Truth, Fact, and Art
Instruction Mode: Section 004 is (see other Sections below)
Subject: English Language and Literature (ENGLISH)
Department: LSA English Language & Literature
See additional student enrollment and course instructor information to guide you in your decision making.


Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
Advisory Prerequisites:
Open only to seniors who have completed the First-Year Writing Requirement.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:


Immersion writing is more an approach than a genre. Literary journalism, travel writing, and some forms of memoir regularly use these techniques. In his book A Field Guide to Immersion Writing, Robin Hemley writes: “Immersion writing engages the writer in the here and now in a journalistic sense, shaping and creating a story happening in the present while unabashedly lugging along all that baggage that makes up the writer’s personality: his or her memories, culture, and opinions.”

In many ways, immersion writing has become the dominant mode of creative non-fiction. You see it regularly in essays published in literary venues like Harper’s, the New Yorker, and the Atlantic, as well as in “slick” magazines like GQ, Vanity Fair, and Esquire. Likewise, journalists such as Jon Krakauer (Into Thin Air), Sebastian Junger (A Perfect Storm) and Susan Orlean (The Orchid Thief) have made careers for themselves by immersing themselves in their subject matter and becoming part of the story.

But how do you do it well? In particular, how can you be involved with your material yet remain objective? How do you juggle facts with impressions? Where is the line between interpretation and fabrication? In short: How can you balance truth, fact, and art?

In this class we’ll both study the approach and become practitioners of it. So in addition to reading literary and investigative features, you’ll also be writing these forms. Similarly, you’ll learn practical skills like how to query editors, write pitches, and negotiate the working life of the literary journalist. As an editor and publisher myself, I’ll give you a behind-the-scenes glimpse of this world. We’ll also talk regularly with editors and fellow non-fiction authors, giving you insight on both the artistic and practical sides of the process.

Course Requirements:

Most students who take this course will have already taken English 325, but it is not a pre-requisite. Workload will include four essays of varying lengths. Texts include A Field Guide for Immersion Writing, by Robin Hemley, and a coursepack.

Intended Audience:

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Class Format:

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ENGLISH 425 - Advanced Essay Writing
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
 In Person
TuTh 11:30AM - 1:00PM
002 (SEM)
 In Person
TuTh 2:30PM - 4:00PM
003 (SEM)
 In Person
W 4:00PM - 7:00PM
004 (SEM)
 In Person
MW 10:00AM - 11:30AM

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