Making News: Literature and Journalism

Spring 2018-2019

27590

Sophie Withers

The news is a growing part of how we understand ourselves, each other and modern life. This course looks at texts from Walt Whitman to Law & Order in order to consider the kinds of conceptual problems that, while posed in different ways by contemporary news, are not themselves new. How do we locate the boundary between fiction and authenticity? How does medium make a difference to our understanding of current or historical events? How do journalism and fiction represent the relationship between public and private life? How do media ecologies both reflect and produce social collectivity? Are there “events”—for example, climate change—that require a different form in order to be communicated effectively? These are a few of the questions we will cover. We will discuss genres like the “nonfiction novel” and artwork “ripped from the headlines.” Although we will focus on texts from the 20th century, the course will also encourage students to take their own creative approach to contemporary stories.