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Fall 2017
Sep 25, 2017
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ENGL 299 - Washington Confidential
(Note: this class is co-listed as JOUR 373)

Washington, D.C., the nation’s center of politics and government, attracts many of the best and the brightest, people who come here for a time to “brand” themselves through press conferences, photo ops and tweets that demonstrate proximity to power. But is also a place where real people live, as did their forebears, and where history’s ghosts dwell. This course explores how some of the premier writers and journalists of the last 150 years have read the capital city. Why do novelists, poets and filmmakers portray Washington the way they do? It is a place that engenders fiction that masquerades as non-fiction and vice versa. Roman a clefs and anonymous sources abound. Do journalists in this town approach the exercise of power – played out in the corridors and back rooms of deal making - fundamentally differently than novelists? What is it about this city that lends itself more readily to being immortalized by journalists than novelists and poets? How is Washington politics and the powerbrokers who practice it represented in literature and journalism? How are the butlers, the nannies, the refugees, the undocumented, the ghostwriters, the maître ds, the body men, the interns – those behind the scenes and on the margins – used in literature and journalism to tell stories? How is Washington as a character itself portrayed in these various genres?

Taught by English professor, book critic, and Nicky and Jamie Grant Distinguished Professor of the Practice in Literary Criticism Maureen Corrigan and journalism director and former political ghostwriter Barbara Feinman Todd. 

Assignments: Two papers 5 to 7 pages each (one journalism-related, one literature-related); a substantial mid-term; one group presentation (4-5 students 30-minute presentation, after mid-term).

3.000 Credit hours
3.000 Lecture hours
0.000 Lab hours

Levels: Undergraduate
Schedule Types: Lecture

English Department

Course Attributes:
Mean Grade is Calculated

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