Wednesday, January 17, 2007

school's in

starting monday, school will be back in session, and i am psyched.
i just ordered all the films and texts for my documentary film study class and i am already salivating in anticipation of all that we will cover.
i can't wait.
here's what i am taking:

Writing and Democracy: Nonfiction Workshop 2
Suzannah Lessard

The great task of nonfiction is to engage with the world outside us and uncover its meanings. In a time of change like the present, this task becomes vital to the health of a society. We focus on opinion and reporting. In opinion, the writer goes out into the public arena as a protagonist using his or her art as a weapon of seduction with which to pierce the mind and sometimes the heart of the reader. In reportage, on the other hand, the writer is more like a lens through which the reader explores the world. Here transparency rather than dazzling performance is required. Yet literary reporting also seeks to examine the world on a level of complexity comparable to that of great fiction, and for this the self must be brought into play. In this workshop participants write short opinion and reportorial pieces and one long, in-depth piece in either genre. Close mentoring is provided during the process of gathering and organizing material. We also examine masterworks in both forms, as well as some pieces of fiction that are relevant to our task. Authors include John McPhee, James Agee, Joseph Mitchell, Jonathan Schell, Ian Frazier, and Joan Didion. We look at the best reporting from the civil rights and Vietnam War eras and the best pieces of current opinion writers such as Maureen Dowd and David Brooks. This course is part of the Writing and Democracy Program; for more information, see page TK.

Writers on Writing
Sigrid Nunez

More than any other artists, writers are often asked to state why they do what they do. In this class, in addition to reading creative work in different genres, we look at how writers have described their work and the writer's place in society. Our reading includes manifestos, credos, journal entries, and interviews, as well as letters in which writers as mentors speak directly to other writers about their craft and beliefs. Students write brief imitations of master writers, in order to get as close as possible to the bone of these writers' styles, and to learn "how it is done." Working together, we do line-by-line editing of manuscript pages brought to class, discussing how to make every sentence as intelligible and effective as possible. Our main goal is to develop greater awareness and understanding of how our use of language reflects how we think and feel about the world. Readings include works by George Orwell, Flannery O'Connor, Virginia Woolf, Tobias Wolff, V.S. Naipaul, William Gass, Cynthia Ozick, Milan Kundera, and Mario Vargas Llosa. This course is part of the Writing and Democracy Program; for more information, see page TK.

Criticism and Feature Writing
Rachel M. Aydt

We begin with the basics of journalism, including the strong lead, a compelling story structure, accuracy of reporting, and attribution. We explore various aspects of freelance writing, including how to get your stories published, meeting and working with editors, and creating unique story ideas geared to specific magazines. Emphasis is placed on developing strong interviewing and research skills. We workshop all assignments in class, where the class acts as an editorial board determining how best to edit pieces for publication. Students are also encouraged to submit their work to magazines and newspapers. Throughout the semester, we also study the scaffolding of current pieces in print and critique them in class. Professionals in the field are occasional guests.

Documenting Our World: A History of Nonfiction Film
Rebecca M. Alvin

Ever since 1895, when Thomas Edison filmed his friend Fred Ott's sneeze, there has been intense interest in the ability of motion picture cameras to document our world. Filmmakers have recorded events around them, whether a sneeze or a major historical event, in hopes of gaining a more profound understanding of themselves and their environment. This drive, combined with developments in both thought and technology, resulted in what we now call documentary or nonfiction film. We explore the history of documentary film from the Lumiere brothers to Michael Moore, examining landmark works and representing various movements, styles, and notions of "truth." This survey equips students with the tools to navigate the increasingly complex world of audio-visual information that we often blindly accept as truth.

The Writer's Life Colloquium

Graduate writing students at The New School participate in an ongoing colloquium of visiting writers, editors, writing teachers, publishers, and literary agents. This Writer's Life Colloquium reflects the wide range of cultural activity at The New School and the belief that students benefit from exposure to many voices and genres. The Writer's Life Colloquium carries 1 point of credit each term. Examples of events embraced by the Writer's Life Colloquium are the public readings co-sponsored with PEN, the Academy of American Poets, and the Poetry Society of America, and the public craft seminars like Fiction Forum. The Writer's Life Colloquium also involves special readings, craft seminars, teaching lectures, publication discussions, and visiting writer residencies arranged exclusively for the MFA candidates. Active participation in the colloquium consists of attendance at a minimum of seven events.

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“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.” -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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