ENGLISH 425 - Advanced Essay Writing
Winter 2022, Section 002 - Immersion Writing: Truth, Fact, and Art
Instruction Mode: Section 002 is   Hybrid (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 to students who have completed first year college writing.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:
Start/End Date:
Full Term 1/5/22 - 4/19/22 (see other Sections below)
NOTE: Drop/Add deadlines are dependent on the class meeting dates and will differ for full term versus partial term offerings.
For information on drop/add deadlines, see the Office of the Registrar and search Registration Deadlines.


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 for 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 nonfiction. 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. And the newest generation of literary journalists—writers like Jia Tolentino, Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, Donovan Hohn, Lacy M. Johnson, Lauren Groff, Aisha Sabatini Sloan, and others—are building on the legacies of authors such as Joan Didion, Tom Wolfe, and Gay Talese 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 of immersion writing and become practitioners of the form. So, in addition to reading literary and investigative features, you’ll also be writing in this style. Similarly, you’ll learn about querying editors, writing pitches, and negotiating the working life of the literary journalist. And as an editor and publisher myself, I’ll try to give you a behind-the-scenes glimpse of this world, helping you gain insight into both the artistic and practical sides of the process.

Course Requirements:

Course work will include participation in daily discussions, completion of short writing assignments, and contribution to workshops. Students will also produce, workshop, and revise two major essays (12-15 pages each).

Intended Audience:

Some students who elect this course will have already taken English 325, but it is not a pre-requisite. Juniors are also welcome to enroll in this course. 

Class Format:

This class is blended. As such, some of our sessions will be in our assigned classroom, and some will be online. Most of our online classes will be “live” discussions via Zoom. However, there will also be some asynchronous elements built in for flexibility.


ENGLISH 425 - Advanced Essay Writing
Schedule Listing
002 (SEM)
TuTh 11:30AM - 1:00PM
1/5/22 - 4/19/22
003 (SEM)
 In Person
MW 1:00PM - 2:30PM
1/5/22 - 4/19/22

Textbooks/Other Materials

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Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

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