Sunday, May 2, 2010

Final Blog Post Spring 2010

How has your view of journalistic writing changed since the beginning of the semester? How has your own writing changed (in terms of writing process, content, and/or goals)? To what do you attribute the changes?(And if nothing has changed for you, please explain why.)

Answer as thoroughly -- and personally -- as the space on the blog allows. Your response is due by 2:30 p.m., Monday, May 17.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Comic Book Journalism

Please describe the links, if any, between comics journalism and literary journalism. Is it possible to consider comics journalism a subgenre of literary journalism? Why or why not? Your response is due prior to class on Monday, May 3.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Let Us Now Praise Famous Men

Please respond prior to class Monday!

Why, in your opinion, should journalism students read this excerpt from Let Us Now Praise Famous Men by James Agee? What is something valuable they can learn from it?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

King of Hyperbole

Someone (me) once wrote that H. L. Mencken believed that "Nothing succeeds like excess." Identify a passage in "Deep in the Coca-Cola Belt" that supports this statement. Does Mencken's penchant for hyperbole and exaggeration detract from or enhance his standing as a "factual" journalist in your eyes? How does his style relate to Thompson's? Respond prior to class, Monday.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Postcards From the Edge (2)

By 6 p.m. Sunday, April 4, each group should post 1) its theme and 2) what each member of the group is doing -- that is, writing -- in pursuit of the theme. The posts should be done by group, with each member and his or her topic listed and, as necessary, explained.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Hamill & Breslin

Although written only five years apart and about similar events, the Breslin and Hamill stories we read for class feel vastly different. Identify one literary technique that, to your mind, contributes to this different feel and explain how it contributes. You might choose, for example, from point of view, narrative structure, choice of language, and so on. Please be as specific and complete as possible. Your response should be posted prior to class on Thursday.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Postcards From the Edge

By 8 p.m., Tuesday, March 9, please send a list of five topics for our Los Angeles Notebook-type project. That is, what areas of life at SUNY New Paltz do you think it would be worthwhile and interesting to send Didion- or Orwell-like postcards about to readers? My idea is to divide you into five groups of four. Each member of a group would be responsible for creating at least one scene (maybe two) that illustrates an aspect of the group's subject. Each group would also need to create a contextualizing section, as both Didion and Orwell do, that cements the pieces of the mosaic together. I have already spoken to Nancy Heiz about using the stories in The Little Rebellion.

If anyone has other ideas or suggestions about how to proceed, please submit them with your response.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Compare the structure of the pieces by Davis, Orwell, and Herr. What changes do you notice? How are these changes in form related to the changing conception of imperialism and war? To the changing purpose of literary journalism?

Your response is due by noon, Sunday, March 7.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Third Winter Is the Hardest

Choose one of the following to answer. Please post your response by noon, Sat., Feb. 27.

1) Describe the relationship between the straight and parenthetical passages in Martha Gellhorn's "The Third Winter." In other words, what is the function of each and how do they function in relation to each other?

2) Analyze an instance of Gellhorn's use of metaphor or simile. Include why she choose this image and whether or not it works and how or why.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Juke Joint

Please respond to the post below by 4 p.m., Wednesday, March 2.

How does Walter Bernstein convey his feelings about Frankie's? Pick an image or phrase or device that you believe helps him get across to readers what he wants them to think about the bar. What is the dominant sense of the place Bernstein wants us to have? How does the technique or phrase (or whatever) you picked reflect that? Caveat: Each of you should pick something no one else has.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Story of an Artist

The incomparable Daniel Johnson:

Story of an Artist

The incomparable Daniel Johnson:

Monday, February 15, 2010

Death in the Morning

The issue for a writer is how to close the gap, often yawning, between the writer's subject and the reader's experience. Give one example of how Richard Harding Davis creates reader admiration and/or sympathy for Rodriguez in his story. You should cite a specific image, description, etc., rather than make a general statement. Notice, too, how he leads us to feel quite the opposite about the Spaniards.

Please respond by 1 p.m. Wednesday, Feb 17.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

How to Write a Story

Begin in the middle
with the screams

of something burning,
then insert nightfall

and a trail of bread crumbs
the crows will maliciously eat.

It’s important that there be
lost children, but the search dogs

should be tired, or even better,
dubious, and with no way

to stop the bleeding
in the region of the brain

that controls our tears.

What, according to this poem, are the key components of a well-written story? Does your projected story incorporate any of the components? Respond by five p.m., Sunday, February 14.

Friday, February 5, 2010

In the Beginning

Write the opening paragraph of your scene (that is, your story for LHW). Skip the David Copperfield crap, as Holden did. Please respond by 4 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 10.

(Let's start in the middle -- that is, closer to the central conflict or tension. . . let's avoid elaborate descriptive setup; rather, put the "characters" in motion asap. . . don't summarize what people say when you can use dialog instead. . . if a character is important to the story, give a couple of descriptive details when you introduce him or her -- not at or toward the end of the piece. . . And, please, have a story worth telling. It seems to me Michelle's -- as edited -- comes close to this ideal.)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Morris Markey's literary journalism piece, "Drift," belongs to a genre referred to as "the procedural." To your mind, what characteristics of the piece make it an example of the genre? (Late addition: How does this help with or determine the structure/organization of the piece?)

Now, as early respondents have noted, the piece has a noir-ish atmosphere. What is the connection of that atmosphere to the point or theme of the piece?

Remember, we're practicing good writing here, not just literary analysis. Your comments should be crisp and clear. Avoid generalizations, tortured syntax, and muddy language.

Your response is due by noon, Sunday, Feb. 7.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


If you wish to answer another question besides the one below, try this: Why does Crane refer to the tramp as the "assassin" in "An Experiment in Misery"? Is the term serious? Sardonic? Metaphorical? Does it say as much about the youth as about the tramp?

Is Stephen Crane's "Man Falls, a Crowd Gathers" news? Why or why not? (Feel free to respond to each other's comments, not just the question.) Your response is due by 4 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 2.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Welcome to Literature of Journalism

Tell me something I ought to know about you that will help me help you as a writer -- your aspirations, your fears and doubts, your literary or journalistic heroes, etc. Don't be afraid to read and bounce off each other's comments. Your own comments should be as clear and complete as you can make them in a blog response. Remember this is my introduction to your writing. Impress me. Or at least don't bore me. (First lesson: That's about the worst thing you can do to a reader. What's the worst? Probably to unintentionally confuse him or her.) Your response is due by 4 p.m., Wed., Jan. 27.