Graduate School

Crossing the borders: literary journalism as a transnational and transgeneric discourse

This course is part of the programme:
Humanities (Third level)

Objectives and competences

The students will study both national and global, social, political, and cultural (and within that, literary and journalistic) phenomena and concepts and draw comparisons between them. Thus, they will combine the knowledge of various disciplines and will be prepared to work in various fields. Primarily, they can target jobs in research institutions and centers, as well as at universities and colleges, in the realm of media outlets, international relations, as well as in the field of cultural, sociological, and anthropological endeavors. Work at non-profit organizations also comes into play, especially those that deal with global socio-cultural and socio-political questions.

Prerequisites

In order to be able to take the final exam at this course, it is essential to attend the lectures (80% attendance) and actively contribute to the lectures – taking part in debates, covering all the selected readings, writing of two seminar papers on selected topics in literary journalism and presenting the essays (10–15 min presentations). At the end of the lectures and seminar work, the students will also submit an individual research project which will be an article written in the form of literary journalism [each student will pick a topic to write about in the beginning of our course; the essay will consist of about 4000 words and will conform to the basic principles of literary journalism.] For the course to proceed normally, there needs to be a sufficient supply of prescribed literature in the library and/or in the electronic form available to the students.

Prior knowledge requirements for the course: our course calls for knowledge in the area of humanities and social studies, with the emphasis placed on literary and journalistic practices and in connection with sociological, historical themes and topics concerning cultural studies. The students are expected to follow the current and topical literary and journalistic production in Slovenia and abroad. Lastly, they need to have an advanced knowledge of English, as certain theoretical works and articles will be read in English. It is advisable to have a reading knowledge of at least one more language – French/Italian/German.

Content (Syllabus outline)

We will look at the literary-journalistic phenomenon called literary journalism. We will first analyze the historical development of this discourse. Further on, we will discuss the key characteristics of literary journalism (LJ). LJ has the most notable tradition in the US (especially in the 1960s, this type of writing became increasingly popular; namely, in the circle of writers who gathered around Tom Wolfe, who, apart from Truman Capote, is know as the “father” of new/ literary journalism), however, we will move beyond the US borders. We will be particularly interested in LJ in Europe, including in Slovenia, where this type of writing is still more or less in its initial phase. We will attempt to define the similarities and differences between various (national) types of literary journalism and see if there has been any significant interplay. Moreover, we will extract the key stylistic characteristics of this type of writing, we will pose questions about the line between fiction and truth, between the private and the public, and the subjective and the objective in the selected texts. We will also address the ethical issues that literary journalism raises. Even though LJ, which can be described as a trans-generic discourse, developed most significantly in the Anglo-American geographical domain, we will also discuss the works of non-America authors such as Danilo Kiš, Ryszard Kapuściński, Jamaica Kincaid, Slavenka Drakulić; among Slovenian journalists, we will expose the works of Ervin H. Milharčič, Željko Kozinc, and Alenka Puhar.

The course connects with the following two courses: Literatures in transnational connection and Translation as a means of transcultural communication.

Intended learning outcomes

The course will familiarize the students with the literary-journalistic phenomenon of literary journalism. We will get to know the main characteristics of this type of narrative, explain the socio-political and historical context that shaped and influenced this discourse, and, finally, study concrete examples of literary journalism from all over the globe. When studying individual cases, we will be interested in the relation between the writer, the editor, and the publication outlet that published the piece in question. The students will develop critical thinking and an analytical approach to understanding texts, while, at the same time, they will also improve their writing skills. The goal is also to introduce the students to a proper theoretical vocabulary with which they can describe and analyze the texts and the related social phenomena. Our principal intention (for lectures and seminars) is getting to know the major works of literary journalism as a phenomenon that surpasses genre and national borders. Literary journalism will be taught as a transnational discourse that also has national specifics. The course is more or less a novelty in the Slovenian academic space and offers the students an insight into an area of studies that is topical and has had a significant tradition on a global academic scale already.

Readings

  • Joan Didion. Slouching Towards Bethlehem. New York: Washington Square Press:

Pocket Books, 1968.

  • Slavenka Drakulić. Kako smo preživeli komunizem in se celo smejali. Maribor: Rotis,

1992.

  • Ervin Hladnik Milharčič. Pot na Orient. Ljubljana: Študentska založba, 2009.
  • Ryszard Kapu�›ciński. Cesar. Ljubljana: Cankarjeva založba, 1999.
  • Željko Kozinc. Dotik sveta: Zgodba arhitekta Janeza Hacina. Ljubljana: Založba Modrijan, 2006.
  • Norman Mailer. The Armies of the Night: History as a Novel/ The Novel as History. New York: New American Library, 1968.
  • George Orwell. Na robu in na dnu v Parizu in Londonu. Ljubljana: Beletrina, 2010.
  • Sacco, Joe. Varovano območje Goražde: Vojna v vzhodni Bosni 1992–95.

Ljubljana: Založba ZRC, SAZU, 2006.

  • Hunter S. Thompson, Strah in groza v Las Vegasu: zblojeno potovanje v srce ameriškega

sna. Ljubljana, DZS, 1999.

  • David Foster Wallace. “Consider the Lobster”, Gourmet, 2004 (article – essay)
  • Tom Wolfe. “The Birth of the New Journalism: An Eyewitness Report”, New York

Magazine, 1972. (article – essay)

STROKOVNA LITERATURA: Izbor (Selection)

  • Boynton, Robert S. The New New Journalism. Conversations with America’s Best Nonfiction Writers on Their Craft. New York: Vintage Books, Random House, Inc., 2005.
  • Flis, Leonora. Factual Fictions: Narrative Truth and the Contemporary American Documentary Novel. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars, 2010.
  • Foley, Barbara. Telling the Truth: The Theory and Practice of Documentary Fiction. New York: Cornell University Press, 1986.
  • Hartsock, John C. A History of American Literary Journalism. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2000.
  • Literary Journalism Across the Globe: Journalistic Traditions and Transnational

Influences. Eds. John S. Bak and Bill Reynolds. University of Massachusetts Press,

2011.

  • Merljak Zdovc, Sonja. Literarno novinarstvo: Pojav in raba nove novinarske vrste v ZDA in Sloveniji. Ljubljana: Modrijan, 2008.
  • Sims, Norman. True Stories: A Century of Literary Journalism. Northwestern University

Press, 2008.

  • Weingarten, Marc. The Gang That Wouldn’t Write Straight: Wolfe, Thompson, Didion, and the New Journalism Revolution. New York: Crown Publishers, 2006.

Assessment

- 80% attendance at lectures and the seminar and active participation in discussions = 20% – completing all the obligations for lectures and the seminar (reading and writing) = 10% a) seminar work (2x) and presentation, taking part in discussions and written reports on selected texts, and b) final research project = 20% -final exam at the end of the semester

Lecturer's references

SHORT BIO:

Leonora Flis holds a B.A. in English and another one in Comparative Literature. Her PhD was in American Literature and Culture. She is an Assistant Professor at the School of Humanities at the University of Nova Gorica, Slovenia. She teaches Literary Theory, Methodology of Intercultural Studies, Literature & Film, British and American Literature, and EFS courses. She is the author of Factual Fictions: Narrative Truth and the Contemporary American Documentary Novel (2010). Flis also works as a book and film critic and a translator. In 2011, she received a Fulbright Postdoctoral Research fellowship and worked at Columbia University in New York. She is currently the guest editor of the special edition of Literary Journalism Studies, dedicated to female literary journalists. She is a regular member of ASEEES, MLA, IALJS, and Slovenian Association of Literary Translators. Flis authored several scholarly essays, published in domestic and foreign peer-reviewed literary journals. Apart from her academic endeavors, Flis is actively involved in several volunteer projects (involving teaching English, working with immigrants, and hosting book clubs in the English language).

Select Bibliography:

BOOKS

Factual Fictions: Narrative Truth and the Contemporary American Documentary Novel. Cambridge Scholars, November 2010.

PEER-REVIEWED JOURNAL PUBLICATIONS AND CHAPTERS IN BOOKS

“Joe Sacco in literarno novinarstvo v podobi stripa—preplet literature, stripa, novinarstva in zgodovine” (“Joe Sacco and Graphic Literary Journalism – The Blending of Literature, Comics, Journalism and History”). Primerjalna knjizevnost (Comparative Literature journal), vol. 37, number 2, August 2014, 195–215.

Guest editor (and contributor of the Introduction) of a special issue of the Literary Journalism Studies journal, focusing on female literary journalists (forthcoming). Fall 2014 or Spring 2015.

Collection of essays Literature and Multimedia in Late 20th and 21st Century Europe. John Benjamins Press (2014), essay: “Nonfiction Comics as a Medium of Remembrance and Mourning and a Cosmopolitan Genre of Social and Political Engagement” (Fall 2014).

“Louis Adamic: Slovene-American Literary Journalism Avant la Lettre.” Slovene Studies 33.2 (2011): 115–32.

“The Blending of Fact and Fiction in Three American Documentary (Crime) Narratives.” Acta Neophilologica, vol. 43, no. 1/2 (2010): 69–82, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia.

“Documentary Narratives in Postmodern Times: The United States and Slovenia.” Slovene Studies 31.1 (2009): 31–50.

“Vznik ameriškega dokumentarnega romana in njegove postmoderne razsežnosti” (“The Emergence of the American Documentary Novel and Its Postmodern Extension”). Primerjalna književnost (Comparative Literature) 30. 1. Posebna številka (Special Issue), Ljubljana 2007: 151–164.

“Eugene O’Neill and the Ancient Greek Drama.” Dialogi 8, October 2004: 36–44.

“Contemporary Slovene Literature.” Contemporary Review 1659, vol. 284, April 2004: 225–232.

OTHER SCHOLARLY ESSAYS

“Literary Journalism in Slovenia.” Literary Journalism Newsletter. Evanston: International Association for Literary Journalism Studies, Winter 2012.

“Joan Didion: “Čarobnost literarne imaginacije – Portret.” (“Joan Didion: The Magic of

Literary Imagination – Portrait.”) Locutio 34, April 2007

.

“Duality of Being: Kieslowski’s Double Life of Veronique and Paul Auster’s City of Glass.”

Locutio 31, July 2006 .

“Slovenia’s Contemporary Poetic Endeavors.” Fordham University’s journal Bricolage 1,

May 2006: 29–39.

FOREWORDS AND INTERVIEWS in books and scholarly journals (selection)

Interview: “Impartiality Has Nothing to Do with Neutrality: A Conversation with Ervin Hladnik Milharčič.” World Literature Today, University of Oklahoma, vol. 86, no. 2, March –April 2012.

Foreword: “Megalomanija v arhitekturi in ljubezni” (“Megalomania in Architecture and in Love”). Foreword in Tom Coraghessan Boyle: Ženske (The Women). Ljubljana: Modrijan, 2011.

Foreword: “Per aspera ad astra ali kako zares spoznati sebe in napisati knjižni prvenec” (“Per aspera ad astra or How to Really Get to Know Yourself and Write Your Debut Book”). Foreword in George Orwell: Na robu in na dnu v Parizu in Londonu (Down and Out in Paris and London, Leonora Flis, trans.). Ljubljana: Študentska založba Beletrina, 2010.

University course code: 3IK058

Year of study: 1

Course principal:

Lecturer:

ECTS: 6

Workload:

  • Lectures: 30 hours
  • Individual work: 150 hours

Course type: elective

Languages: slovene or english

Learning and teaching methods:
the lectures and the seminar will incorporate the following methods: lectures, discussion (group or in pairs), study of selected texts (“close reading”), analysis, interpretation, individual work – the writing of responses to selected texts discussed in classes, individual research and presentation of the individual research (writing) project.