lecturer Simon Winchester combines factual reporting with good
funding from Robert M. Vare, AB'67, AM'70, a senior editor at
Atlantic Monthly, the College has launched a nonfiction
writer-in-residence program. Inaugurating the program this winter
is Simon Winchester, author of The Professor and the Madman
(1998), who is teaching The Art and Craft of Storytelling, the
University's first narrative nonfiction writing course.
reading list for the course includes his 1997 travelogue The River
at the Center of the World, a journey on the 3,964-mile Yangtze
River; a biography of journalist Bruce Chatwin by Nicholas Shakespeare;
the collected works of John Reed, who chronicled Pancho Villa's
guerrillas and the Russian Revolution; and Evelyn Waugh's Scoop,
a novel satirizing journalistic excess.
twin goals for the course are to teach the students to dig up
facts like the most hard-nosed of journalists and to tell a story
like masters of the craft.
of me as your foreign editor," he tells his nine enrollees,
whose first assignment will be to write an 800-word news story.
provides the scoop: a "terrible injustice" committed
during the early-1970s establishment of a U.S. military base on
the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia.
injustice is little known," he says. "But a recent decision
taken in London means that perhaps the wrongs inflicted three
decades ago could be on their way to being righted."
points the students toward the Internet and his own mid-'80s writings
on the situation, but leaves them to their own devices to sniff
out the trail-with guidance, of course, from class readings and
discussions. They are to summarize the story with "style
and journalistic grace," offer solutions to the problem at
the heart of the story, and suggest the wider implications of
best summary," he says, "will be that which is both
up-to-date and elegantly written."-S.A.S.