Honors | Fact, Fiction & Film (HON)
H304 | 26151 | Edward Gubar
Films shown Thursday 7:00-9:30pm
H304 students will receive “H” credit as well as COLL S&H
distribution credit. Honors credit toward an HHC notation (but
not “H” or COLL distribution credit) will also be awarded to
students registering for J460 if they fulfill same work requirements
as H304 students. Journalism majors should register for J460.
For more Information: 855-2827 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In Borges's story, Funes the Memorious, the disabled young Funes
possesses an absolute photographic memory. "I have more memories in
myself alone than all men have had since the world was a world," he
says. One of his projects involves creating a language to express
what his mind perceives and remembers (a word for a dog seen at one
instant from one angle; a different word for the same dog at another
instant from another angle). On one level, Funes embodies extreme
and total objectivity: "In the overly replete world of Funes there
were nothing but details, almost contiguous details." Everything he
sees, he remembers--all of his perceptions bear equal significance.
On another level, however, Funes's project is impossible, for all
languages must generalize and abstract in order to communicate, just
as all so-called memories must represss some details in order to
make sense of the past. "My memory, sir," Funes asserts "is like a
Unlike Funes, Jimmy, the lost mariner in Oliver Sachs's The Man Who
Mistook His Wife for a Hat, has no short-term memory at all. His
life is embedded in novelty (which may either make him the perfect
consumer or the perfect journalist). Meet Jimmy in the garden and
he's perfectly friendly. See him later in the chapel and he has no
idea who you might be. As difficult and poignant as Jimmy's
situation (he's a real person) may be, it's hard not to see him as a
perfect foil for Funes. Who indeed would make the better journalist?
Ultimately, both stories are concerned with history, language, and
the nature of reality.
Beginning with Funes and Jimmy, whose plights serve well as
metaphors for problems of seeing and telling, this course will
explore the journalist's eye/I from ethical, practical, and
contextual vantages. As Borges's story implies, writers must select
and abstract. What principles, what motives guide their choices?
How, for instance, does a journalist mediate the potential conflict
between private views or feelings and public responsibility? How
does s/he navigate the tricky interstices between personal ambition,
public responsibility, and corporate imperatives? Similarly, how
does a journalist cope with the demand for objectivity in a world
philosophically devoid of such a stance? In practice, can a
journalist do factual justice to his material while exploring the
literary possibilities spurred by his/her imagination?
We will examine a variety of works of fiction, numerous films, and
several works of non-fiction as we address these and other questions
about the practice of journalism. We will see (mostly fictional)
journalists at work. We will read journalists' work. We will read
critiques of current journalistic contexts. Hopefully, such
materials will provoke numerous questions about the relationship
between image and reality, seeing and telling, public and private,
eye and I.
Films & Texts (subject to changes and abridgement): Donner, Shabono;
Ehrenreich, Nickel and Dimed, Greene, The Quiet American; Herr,
Dispatches; Kidder, Home Town; Krakauer, Into Thin Air; Mailer,
Armies of the Night; Malcolm, The Journalist and the Murderer;
McChesney and Nichols, Our Media, Not Theirs; Sontag, On
Photography; Stoppard, Night and Day; West, Miss Lonelyhearts
Films: (many available at library or rental stores if you cannot
make all class showings)
A World Apart, Almost Famous, American Splendor, Citizen Kane, Cry
Freedom, Fast, Cheap and Out of Control, Goodbye and Good Luck, The
Insider, The Killing Fields, Manufacturing Consent, Network,
Rashomon, Reds, Salvador, Shattered Glass, Under Fire, The Year of
(+) some selections on the Web, or on J-School library reserve
Required Work: 7-9 short papers, final exam
Graduate and honors students must also complete a term project.