American Reportage

Ref: C2224599

There is a long tradition of reportage within American literature. It is not the journalism of the daily paper but a longer form of literary non fiction, a testimony to events in the world. In this course we shall consider the work of some of the American writers of the twentieth century who have made the genre what it is: James Agee; Martha Gellhorn; John Hersey; Joan Didion and Tom Wolfe among others. We shall also consider the extent to which writing of this kind can survive in a world of electronic communication. And what would we lose were it to disappear?

Additional information about this course


Course aim

The formal aim of this course is to give an introduction to the scale and scope of American reportage in the Twentieth Century.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course has no requirements; it is for anyone who would enjoy extending his or her reading in American literary non fiction.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Appreciate the political climate which was the backdrop to American writing in this period.
  • Extend my reading in American Literature.
  • Analyze the boundaries between fiction and non fiction in the work of at least two of the authors whom we have studied.
  • Assess the extent to which works within this genre have contributed to the life of American democracy.

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • You may be asked to undertake additional work in your own time to support your learning
  • The class will be founded in reading and discussion.

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning
  • You will measure your own progress in discussion with other members of the group, but you will also set your own goals for the course and reflect on your own learning by means of the individual learning plan which is a feature of all WEA courses.

What else do I need to know?

  • It would be helpful if you had access to the internet (Mobile phone, tablet or computer at home or through a library etc.)
  • Access to the internet would be helpful, but not essential. It might be useful to bring a notebook to class.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required
  • We shall discuss a range of writers in this course, but it might be useful to do a little reading before beginning the class. In particular, I would recommend John Hersey's Hiroshima.

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course

Download full course outline

American Reportage Course Outline


You can if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • are paying with a credit/debit card or are not paying a fee because of a qualifying benefit
  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2017
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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