Sunday, May 10, 2009
When we were doing our section on critics, Susan did a presentation on Frank Rich. You may remember that Rich had a background as a theater and film critic but that he's now mainly known for his Sunday op-ed column, which focuses on politics, in the New York Times. We talked a little bit about the possible connections between the worlds of theater and politics. This week, Rich's column presents a good example. Pay attention to how he deploys his stage background in the service of an argument about the newspaper business and its role in American politics. Notice the connections he draws between the demise of vaudeville, radio drama, movie newsreels and the state of print journalism.
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Sunday, April 26, 2009
This story in last week's New Yorker is about the "cosmetic" use of prescription drugs used for attention-deficit disorder. It's probably old news to many of you -- but the story looks at studies that indicate some of these drugs can improve one's ability with certain tasks, like memorizing numbers, and that some people find they can concentrate better and for longer under their influence. She raises the question of whether college students who use these drugs should be punished for cheating. Toward the end the author makes an interesting connection with the "transhumanists" like the guy we read about in Wired who hopes to live forever if he can get to the singularity.
And I know I've been shoving Virginia Heffernan down your throats all semester, ... but there are a few more weeks left. Here's her column from the Sunday Times Magazine. Again, she's right on the money, taking the somewhat contrarian view that user comments online are basically a wasteland of ill-considered poison. We've discussed the merits of user-generated comments in class, and many publications go out of their way to get as many as possible. And many readers seek the most-commented-upon stories as well. Heffernan suggests reader comments should rise to a base level of insight.
Which brings us back to snark. Here's yet another review of David Denby's book Snark. This one, coincidentally, is written by Toby Young the British critic who we'll be reading for class and discussing on Tuesday.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
And here's a more newsy piece about the impending demise of daily print in Michigan.
I don't mean for these to be too depressing. As we discussed in class, there will still be plenty of writing, blogging, and web reporting. The more aware you are of the landscape, the more prepared you'll be for whatever turns you need to take.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
In case any of you are inclined to read more on David Foster Wallace, the writer who wrote the piece that we read about the Maine Lobster Festival from Gourmet, here's a longish story from the New Yorker about Wallace's career and his struggle with depression.
And here's David Carr's Media Equation column from Monday's New York Times in which he again articulates the logic behind his micro-payment proposal and how it's seemingly the only idea that will save newspapers.
And, while we're at it, here's a fantastic Virginia Heffernan column that came to mind after our discussion Tuesday regarding different newspaper policies with respect to reader comments and how to edit, clean-up or attribute them. Very funny, smart and insightful as always.
... OK, and one more. This just went up on the NY Times site about 20 minutes ago, and it offers more dire news for newspapers.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Our discussion of Q and A's will be enhanced if any of you can read this story about Deborah Solomon's interview and editing techniques from the New York Press. There was a whole mini-flap about this issue, and the Times ended up changing the text that runs with her popular interviews each week as a result.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
I'm curious what you all make of the discussion about paying for magazine and newspaper content online. This piece in Slate is one out of a whole string of things that have shown up -- first in David Carr's business column in the NY Times, then on the cover of Time Magazine (maybe you saw Walter Isaacson discussing his story about the future of newspapers on The Daily Show?), on the opinion pages of the Times, and elsewhere. The idea is that consumers, the public, (you/we) would be willing to pay "micropayments" for articles and stories online, in much the same way people pay for MP3s on iTunes.
So, informal poll then, how many of you pay for music? Would you be willing to pay 10 or 15 cents or a quarter for every story you wanted to read from your favorite magazines? (Magazines whose content, I'm assuming, you can't access fully online for free at the moment.) I feel like if I could read magazines like Mojo, Paste, NY Review of Books, the Believer, Cabinet (not even sure it that's still around), and lots more for such cheap little installments, I would. But maybe I'm dreaming. Maybe a $20 or $30 or maybe $50 monthly fee for reading stuff that I could just as easily browse through at Borders or at the library would be way out of my budget, especially in this economy.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
In the Christopher Benfey book review, what was his critical response to the book under consideration? After our discussion of whether a critic's role is to convey a judgment of a piece of art, did Benfey's review leave the reader wanting to read the book? Why? What did Benfey focus on communicating in the review?
What's the premise of the New Yorker piece about Gordon Ramsay? How did Buford treat dialogue and speech? Did Buford's "voice" come through? Was the Ramsay profile about food? Is there tension in this story? What is it?
On the subject of your restaurant reviews: What was the hardest thing to do with regard to the assignment? Was it difficult to contain your thoughts and opinions in 600 words?
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Sunday, January 25, 2009
>John Adamian: firstname.lastname@example.org
Spring 2009: Tuesdays Emma Hart Willard Hall 214
Office Hours: By appointment.
This course is designed to give students a broad understanding of contemporary American arts journalism – including blogging, lists, profiles, reviews, previews, Q & As, larger wide-ranging pieces, and blurbs. The readings represent a wide range of styles, tones, genres and approaches, from pedestrian to academic, from off-the-cuff blog posts to deeply researched pieces.
We’ll spend time considering the following: what it means to be a critic or an arts writer; what the reader expects or hopes to get from a piece of arts journalism; what background information is crucial; what can be left out; how best to begin a piece of writing; how best to end one. We’ll consider the challenges of writing on subjects about which we might have only limited knowledge or expertise. The class will also focus on the pitfalls of needlessly overselling a subject; the difficulties of crafting a negative review; the importance of keeping the writer out of a review, and when to ignore such rules of thumb. Tone, voice, style and attitude will all be discussed.
Final grades will be given based on the following:
Blogging : 20 percent
Quizzes: 20 percent
Writing: 40 percent
Class participation: 20, attendance, discussion
Extra credit: there will be opportunities for extra credit
Blogging: Each student will be required to setup a blogging account and a personal blog for the class. Every blog will include links to all of the other blogs in the class. Students will be required to make two posts a week, comment on two other class blogs per week. Posts can be about books, movies, restaurants, art, concerts, records, other blogs, newspapers, web sites, magazines, dance, theater, poetry readings, etc. Posts and comments can be any length.
Quizzes on the reading will be given at irregular intervals.
(All of the readings for this class are available online. You will need to complete a free registration at some the sites in order access the articles.) Schedule is subject to change.
Plagiarism: If you copy someone else’s work, copy and paste without attribution, or otherwise misappropriate information, you will be given a failing grade. You should be aware of the honor code and ask questions whenever you are in doubt. You may have new questions regarding the appropriate use of the ideas and work of others. Remember that questions asked in class may help other students.
Feb. 3: Set up your blog. Read the following (your blog posts can be on the readings, but they don’t have to be). Go out to eat – anywhere – and write a review (between 500 and 600 words). Describe setting, service, food, and whatever else jumps out at you.
Bill Buford (New Yorker)
Feb 10: Come to class with an arts event occurring in CT during the month of March – a concert, exhibit, play, reading, dance, etc. – that you’d like to preview.
Klosterman on GNR
Anthony Lane on Mama Mia!
Feb17: High Concept:
Gopnik on abridgements and
Feb 24: Social-Networking as Entertainment and the Q & A. Come to class with an idea for an artist (choreographer, actor, writer, musician, etc.) you'd like to do a Q & A with.
March 3: Finding Your Subject
March 10: Blogs, web-only writing and the art of pitching a story idea
March 17: Meta-Media
March 24: Going Academic
(I couldn't figure out how to solve the annoying formatting problem on this one, but I e-mailed a version to you all.)
March 24: Spring Break
March 31: The Profile
Jeff Koons profile in New Yorker
April 7: Left Field
Wired on Kurzweil
April 21: The Brits and othersFrench critics
April 28: Stunts
May 5: Serious Business – the book review as cultural history
May 12: Taste
Klosterman on Billy Joel
New Yorker on Whiteness in Indie rock
Things to Keep in Mind as You Write For This Class (and in General):
How much background information you’re providing on your subject.
Be aware of when you’re writing in the first person. Be aware of when your experience and your life are entering your writing. Make sure it’s necessary.
Word choice: pay attention to your verbs. Avoid adverbs when possible. Don’t be long-winded. Don’t be a smarty-pants. Bigger, less well-known words are usually not better than more familiar words. Kill your darlings: if you’re overly fond of a particular phrase, passage, section, word, you may want to consider whether it’s over the top, unnecessary, pretentious or condescending.
Vary sentence structure and length.
(With the exception of articles, pronouns, prepositions and conjunctions) avoid the repetition of words in sentences, paragraphs and throughout a whole piece if possible. Don’t create worse problems of awkward phrasing when trying to avoid this situation.
Pay special attention to your opening sentences. Pay special attention to your closing sentences. Pay attention to everything in between.
Resist the urge to make grand sweeping statements at the conclusion of your pieces.
If you’ve done an interview for a story, it’s rarely a bad idea to end with the voice your subject (in a quote) as the final bit of a piece.