Styles of Academic and Professional Prose: Writing about Music

A seminar and workshop in the conventions of good writing in a specific field. Each section focuses on one academic or professional kind of writing and explores its distinctive features through a variety of written and oral assignments, in which students both analyze and practice writing in the field. Section topics include legal, humor, travel, or nature writing; writing about medicine and public health, religion, the visual arts, or food; writing in the social sciences; writing reviews of the performing arts; and writing for radio. May be repeated for course credit in a section that treats a different genre or style of writing; may not be repeated for credit toward the major.

SYLLABUS

It has been said that writing about music is like dancing about architecture – and indeed, evoking melody, harmony, and rhythm with words can challenge even the most observant and eloquent among us.  In this section of English 121, students will read and discuss writing on music by not only scholars and critics (e.g. Margo Jefferson and Kalefa Sanneh) but also journalists (Joan Didion and Susan Orlean), a poet (LeRoi Jones), a  novelist (Jonathan Lethem), and many others.  The focus will be on popular music, very broadly defined, and among the concepts to be investigated are taste and “cool.” Written assignments will include a critical review of a performance or recording, a literary essay on a musical topic, a profile of a musician, and an academic paper.  The goal of the course is for students to improve their skills at observation, description, and analysis of culture.

Prerequisites: ENGL 114, 115, 120, or another writing-intensive course at Yale.

Students who wish to enroll in a section of this seminar should participate in online preregistration, which opens at 9:00 a.m. on Monday, December 12, 2016 and closes promptly at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 12, 2017.

Instructor: 
Undergraduate Course #: 
121
Section #: 
5
TTh 2:30pm-3:45pm
WR
Spring
2017