First-Year Studies: Writing the American Experience


The aim of this writing course is to capture the present moment in American life as fully as possible through a series of essays that acknowledge the importance of the past in explaining our current situation. The course will begin with short assignments designed to emphasize the importance of craft and observation. The middle section will concentrate on profiles and op-eds. The final section will focus on long-form journalism that puts a premium on research. If all goes right, the best writing that you do will have, in style and structure, the power of good fiction; but this is not, it should be emphasized, a course in creative nonfiction or autobiography. From first to last, there will be a premium on accurate reportage and on turning out the literature of fact. Among the writers whom we will read are E. B. White, Joan Didion, Tom Wolfe, Gay Talese, and Zadie Smith.