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The Art of the Interview

ENGL 457.640
Thursdays 5:30-8:10 pm

“The Art of the Interview” is a graduate writing seminar that will
focus on interviews: how to prepare for them, conduct them, and write them
into narrative form—whether for a profile, research article, story, essay,
book, documentary, radio or television.  The title of this course
could also be called “The Art of Listening” or “The Art of Gathering
Stories.”  A great interview—revelatory for both interviewee and
interviewer—requires research, preparation, observation, and an alert
presence. In class, students will practice interviewing and generating
questions that open new doors and lead to unexpected answers. Students will
interview a variety of people, including strangers, relatives, public
figures, authorities, and peers, and learn how to accurately convey meaning
as they prioritize and organize the gathered stories. We will explore the
importance of detail, humor, perspective, and place in writing drawn from
interviews, and examine the substance of the story within a larger context.
During the semester, we will read masters of the craft, including Studs
Terkel, Richard Preston, Anais Nin, and Barbara Walters, as well as
profiles from The New Yorker </i>and The Paris Review. </i> We’ll also
listen to Bill Moyers, Terry Gross and others. In class, students will use
techniques of meditation and visualization to find new ways to generate
ideas and to write with more comfort, fun and fluidity. Students also will
learn how to re-envision and revise their writing—what to keep, what to
build upon, and what to let go. Students will maintain a daily practice of
free-writing; participate in peer review workshops; write reading
responses, and conduct interviews that lead to at least two powerful
stories that illuminate the human experience and our interconnectedness in
the extraordinary web of life. Class size is limited to 16 students.