>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
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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.