Graduate Liberal Studies Program

Course Description

GLS 592: From the Fleeting to the Enduring: Exploring and Writing Literary Journalism

Instructor: Michelle Bliss


This class will explore the origins and conventions of the nonfiction genre that transforms daily reporting into lasting, narrative-driven works of literature.

Learning Goals:

Along with discussing and writing about our readings for the class, students will also turn in a work of literary journalism for our class workshop. Our goal will be to turn a fleeting news story into a work of literature that can withstand the test of time. Students will learn how to research a story, conduct interviews, and choose a fresh angle on an event that's already been covered but hasn't been explored outside of the word-count-and-inverted-pyramid constraints of a daily media provider.

Teaching Methodology:

While studying works of literary journalism, along with the origins and evolution of the genre, students will choose a story from local or national daily news sources and revisit that event or happening in much more detail than the initial media sweep. In this course, I want students to first study critically acclaimed works of literary journalism and then go out into our community and create their own contributions to the genre.

Assessment Criteria:

Assignments will include a reading journal, student presentations, participation in class discussions, a workshop manuscript, a final manuscript with significant revisions, and peer critiques for workshop. I'll be grading students on their understanding of course material, but also assess what new perspective or original thought they bring to class discussions and how they are able to incorporate what we're learning into their own writing and revision process.


We will read examples of immersion journalism like Random Family by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, ethnographic reportage like Tracy Kidder's Among Schoolchildren, along with Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, a prime example for this course as the book developed after Capote read a 300-word article in the back of the New York Times describing the grisly, mysterious murders of a family in rural Kansas. We will also read selections from writers such as Norman Mailer, Gay Talese, and Joan Didion, along with looking at craft essays, watching relevant movie clips, and listening to radio productions.

Last Update: February 7, 2017