IALJS 2 2007 Conference

"Literary Journalism in an International Context"
The 2nd International Conference for Literary Journalism Studies
Paris, France
18-19 May 2007


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Sciences Po Paris


Location in Paris

Salle Jean Monnet, CERI (Bât S),
56, rue Jacob
75007 Paris

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Click here for the IALJS 2 Keynote Speech by Dr. Norm Sims
(introduced by Dr. John Hartsock)

International Association for Literary Journalism Studies

The 2nd International Conference
"Literary Journalism in an International Context"

Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po)
Paris, France
18 - 19 May 2007

Friday 18th May 2007 (Salle Jean Monnet, CERI)

Welcome and Introduction

John S. Bak (I.D.E.A., Nancy-Université C.T.U., France):
"Conference Introduction: Literary Journalism Goes Global, Part II"

Poster Session I

Session Title: "American Literary Journalism: Exploring Its Historical Roots"

Moderator: David Abrahamson (Northwestern University, U.S.A.)

1. J. Michael Lyons (Indiana University, U.S.A.): "A Crucible of Discontent: The Settlement House Writers and Literary Journalism on the Lower East Side"
2. Robert Alexander (Brock University, Canada): "Journalism and its Double: Subjectivity, Objectivity, and the Uncanny in Joe Gould's Secret"

In his History of American Literary Journalism, John C. Hartsock attributes the rise of literary journalism in part to "the rhetorical intention of modern journalistic style" which, in its emphasis on objectivity, alienates the subjectivities "of the journalist, the subject of the report, and the readers." In my paper, I draw on Sigmund Freud's essay "The Uncanny" in order to examine one particular aspect of this alienation: the manner in which the objective journalist's typical estrangement from the subjects on which he or she reports as well as from his or her own subjectivity reasserts itself in works of literary journalism in the figure of the double. In works as diverse as Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, Janet Malcolm's The Journalist and the Murderer, Susan Orlean's The Orchid Thief, and, most recently, Michael Finkel's True Story, we find a correspondence between the subjects of stories and certain characteristics of the literary journalists who provide those accounts. Focusing on the two texts which comprise Joseph Mitchell's memorable profile of the derelict Greenwich Village writer Joe Gould, I will argue that, through the curious resemblances which become apparent between Mitchell and his subject, Gould emerges as an uncanny figure for the subjectivity which is necessarily repressed in objective journalism. Finally, drawing on Freud's suggestion that we experience the uncanny in texts which commingle objective and subjective styles – or, in Nicholas Royle's words, "when 'real', everyday life suddenly takes on a disturbingly 'literary' or 'fictional' quality" – I will argue that the bifurcated subjectivity we find in Joe Gould's Secret and other works is an effect of the mixing of journalistic and literary genres which constitutes literary journalism.

3. Delphine Louis (Université de Paris III-Sorbonne Nouvelle, France): "Self and Other: Representations of American Identity through Foreign Experiences in Mark Twain's Literary Journalism"
4. Leslie Eckel (Yale University, U.S.A.): "Poetic News from the New World: Walt Whitman's Transatlantic Reportage"

This paper investigates the journalistic techniques that Whitman used to
promote his poetry in an international context. In their introduction to Walt
Whitman and the World
, Gay Wilson Allen and Ed Folsom observe that Whitman’s
poetry continues to represent “American culture” abroad. I argue that Whitman
himself worked diligently to create that impression in the minds of his readers
by reporting on the appearance of his books as “news” of cultural significance
both at home and abroad. By reapplying the skills that he had learned as a
printer and editor at various newspapers in New York from the 1830s onward,
Whitman was able to shape the public’s response to his poetry and to establish
his reputation as a nationally representative figure.

Thomas L. Brasher’s and Shelley Fisher Fishkin’s studies of Whitman’s editorial
work at the New York Aurora and the Brooklyn Daily Eagle have illuminated the
close ties between his journalistic interests and his development of a fresh and
comprehensive poetic vision. My research approaches Whitman’s journalism
from a new angle as it focuses on the prefaces, reviews, and articles that he
published in conjunction with his volumes of poetry. Whitman began his effort
of journalistic self-promotion locally in 1855, but he quickly turned to British
print sources to secure positive reviews, which he included in his next edition of
Leaves of Grass. He subsequently capitalized on that transatlantic enthusiasm
in his 1876 campaign to promote his “Centennial Edition” of Leaves of Grass by
reporting on his own supposed neglect by American readers. By combining the
authority of the press with the force of his own creative innovation, Whitman
both distinguishes himself from his contemporaries and provides scholars of
literary journalism with a model of a professional life fully realized in print.


Research Paper Session I

Session Title: "Literary Journalism and the Portuguese Experience"

Moderator: Alice Trindade (Instituto Superior de Ciências Sociais e Políticas, Portugal)

1. Isabel Soares Santos (Instituto Superior de Ciências Sociais e Políticas, Portugal): "Literary Journalism's Magnetic Pull: New Journalism and the Portuguese at the Fin-de-Siècle"

Despite being an era of progress and, to some extent, economic prosperity, the Portuguese fin-de-siècle was regarded by an intellectual elite as an epoch of crisis; a time when all aspects of society were being questioned and, no matter which perspective was taken, the country and its society were thought of as a tired body on the verge of degeneration. Like in so many other countries, authors were finding it harder and harder to stick to old canons and Realism was thus making its way. The same authors who were tinkering with literature were also experimenting with journalism, their aim being to rescue the press from its decaying apathy. Therefore, a new journalistic form was coming to light.

Importing models from the British press, men like Eça de Queirós, Ramalho Ortigão, Batalha Reis and Oliveira Martins, all of them journalists, first and foremost, took the Portuguese press by storm writing controversial articles in which their personae were perceived and that sought the readers’ complicity. Regarded as unorthodox journalists by their critics and still widely read today, these four authors can be interpreted as new journalists, or literary journalists avant la lettre, for their articles are alive with scenes, dialogues, irony and humour, devices never used before in the Portuguese press. Our aim is then to shed some light into their special way of writing and analyse them under the blanket expression of literary journalism for the first time. As such we hope to be able to contribute to the study of these four journalists and to bring their names into the realm of literary journalism.

2. Gabriela Gândara Terenas (Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal): "Images of Britain in the Portuguese Literary Journalism During the First Decade of the 20th Century"


Keynote Speech

Introduction: John C. Hartsock (SUNY Cortland, U.S.A.)

Keynote: Norman Sims (University of Massachusetts – Amherst, U.S.A.):
"A Conversation About the Future of Literary Journalism"


Research Paper Session II

Session Title: "Currents in American Literary Journalism: A Sense of Place and the Primacy of Dissent"

Moderator: Isabelle Meuret (Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium)

1. William Dow (Université de Valenciennes and The American University of Paris, France): "Writing Dark Times: Settings, Immersions in Agnes Smedley and Meridel Le Sueur"

What is often missing from so many of the histories on literary journalism and the developing cultural and literary criticism on it is the importance of setting in narrative. Conventionally defined, "the setting of a narrative or dramatic work is the general locale, historical time, and social circumstances in which its action occurs; the setting of an episode or scene within a work is the particular physical location in which it takes place" (Abrams). Pierre Bourdieu complicates this definition, suggesting the need to objectify and analyse the relationship between the analyzer and his or her object of analysis. Failure to do so, Bourdieu suggests, frequently results in the analyser assuming a privileged position (always self-attributed) vis-à-vis setting and effacing relations of power that may be inherent in the relationship. Most concerned with Bourdieu's sense of self-referentiality as it applies to "social circumstances," this paper will examine setting in relation to the writers who left their habitual settings in order to create unhabitual settings for themselves and their readers. It will also attempt to make the oversized subject of setting more manageable by examining its uses in Agnes Smedley's Daughter of Earth (1929) and Meridel Le Sueur's Salute to Spring (1940), two of the most important examples of literary journalism from the Depression era. My contention is that the narratives that grew out of their settings were instrumental in allowing both writers to enter into the thirties' current of displacing the novel as the most prestigious form of literary expression. Their settings dispute the independence of political action while reflecting an uneasiness of telling an individual's story when environment threatens to render the very notion of "individualism" increasingly problematic.

2. Christophe Chambost (Université Victor Segalen Bordeaux 2, France): "Dissenting within Hearst's Empire: Ambrose Bierce's Columns on the Spanish-American War"


Poster Session II

Session Title: "Literary Journalism across the Globe"

Moderator: Moderator: Sonja Merljak Zdovc (Fakulteta za družbene vede, Univerza v Ljubljani, Sovenia)

1. David Abrahamson (Northwestern University, U.S.A.): "The Counter-Coriolis Effect: Expanding Literary Journalism in a Shrinking World"

If author Tom Friedman is correct, for much of the world the defining reality of the next few decades will be globalization in all its forms: economic, political, cultural, social, etc. The question then arises: What, if any, might be the journalistic dimensions to this phenomenon? And if, at least for the sake of argument, one posits that such dimensions exist, what then would be the literary journalism element (or elements) to the journalistic dimension? In line with this axis of inquiry, this work-in-progress presentation attempts to consider literary journalism from a deliberately geopolitical prospective. Because literary journalism most certainly has had the potential for profound long-term, even world-historical, effects (see John Hersey's Hiroshima and the rise of the "Ban the Bomb" movement in the both U.S. and Europe, or Seymour Hersh's dispatches from Abu Ghraib and the changing tide of public opinion about the American misadventure in Iraq), it also can both shape and reflect larger social, cultural and political currents – at the regional, national and even international level. Upon consideration of these larger currents, one aspect might be termed, only half in jest, the Counter-Coriolis Effect. As you will no doubt remember from your grade-school geography class, the Coriolis Effect says that things deflect to the right in the northern hemisphere and to the left in the southern hemisphere. At least as a starting point for a broader discussion, this paper will propose the existence of a Counter-Coriolis Effect, which suggests that the opposite is generally true in comparing the literary journalism of the developed and developing worlds. The work hopes to foster an exploration, from a variety of sociocultural and economic perspectives, of why this might be so, as well as how literary journalism might contribute to an emerging global conversation.

2. David Evans (CEAP, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal): "Literary Journalism as a Tool in the Campaign against Slavery in Portuguese West Africa: The Case of the Portuguese Provincial Newspaper A Verdade"
3. Maria Lassila-Merisalo (University of Jyväskylä, Finland): "The Narrator in Finnish Literary Journalism"

The focus of my future Ph.D. thesis is on the role of the narrator in Finnish literary journalism. In Finland, the typical features of news journalism – the neutral, factual and conventional style – have dominated journalistic mode of expression in general. There has been a rather solid fence between fact and fiction and print journalism has been assumed to stay tightly in the field of fact. Nevertheless, there are a few Finnish magazines that have been interested in employing narrative techniques that are considered to belong to fiction rather than nonfiction. These magazines and their stories are in the center of my research material. My methods are interdisciplinary, including features from communication studies and literary studies.

My thesis consists of three parts. In the first part I will discuss theoretical matters: concepts fact and fiction and their borderline area. I will consider the concepts from both an aesthetical and an epistemological point of view; what are the consequences when one applies fictional techniques into factual texts? I will take a look at the somewhat vaguely defined genre of literary journalism. I will also submit previous study on the concept of the narrator both in literary studies and in journalism studies. And finally, I will present the actual research subject; Finnish literary journalism.

The second part of my thesis consists of several cases of text analysis. I have already analyzed the presence of the narrator in a personality story Takapiru with the help of Seymour Chatman’s classic list of signs of narrator’s overtness. I have also studied a number of personality stories and different attitudes their narrators can have towards the main characters of the stories; this analysis is presented in chapter 6: Friend or Foe?

I am yet to write a chapter based on my Master's thesis. This chapter will discuss speech presentation in an eyewitness reportage. Later on I am also planning on studying a very interesting case of an unreliable narrator in a Finnish magazine.

All these cases focus on the ongoing millenium, and therefore I am wondering whether a peek into the 1950's would be a useful addition or a wasted odyssey.

The third part of my study consists of thematic interviews. I am going to interview a part of the editorial staff of Helsingin Sanomien Kuukausiliite, the monthly supplement of Helsingin Sanomat. My questions will focus on the journalistic work process and the role of the narrator in it.

Through my work I attempt to contribute to both academic as well as professional fields of journalism, in a land where literary journalism appears to be an unfamiliar concept even to most journalists.

4. Chen Peiqin (Shanghai International Studies University, China): "A Comparative Study of Literary Journalism in the United States and Literary Reportage in China"

5. Sonja Merljak Zdovc (Fakulteta za družbene vede, Univerza v Ljubljani, Sovenia): "How the Use of Novelistic Techniques Helped to Avoid Censorship"

In 1963, the constitution of Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia gave the citizens, including Slovenes, the right to express their opinion in mass media and with this the slow process of freedom of expression and information began (Splichal and Vreg, 1986). This was reflected in journalism which – in comparison with the 1950s, when everything was overseen by the Communist Party – started to become more democratic. However, for a long time the journalists could write about the state of affairs in the country only indirectly. Some of the more innovative journalists decided to wrap their criticism and their opinion of the political system in stories. With the aid of novelistic techniques and elements of narrative they told their readers stories about injustice or anomalies of the system they had witnessed. This kind of journalistic writing, which was predominantely associated with the weekly magazine Tovari, appeared approximately at the same time as New Journalism appeared in the United States of America. However, despite the similar definition, i.e. a kind of writing that is based on facts but it reads like literature (Wolfe, 1973; Sims, 1984), it seems that this writing had a different function as well as form. With the methods of quality and comparative analysis, interview and oral history we would like to present why and how this kind of writing developed in Slovenia. Our presentation of the crucial differences between New Journalism and writing in the magazine Tovari¹ in function and form, will be based on the scholarly work of Wolfe (1973), Weber (1980), Sims (1984), Sims and Kramer (1995), Kerrane and Yagoda (1997), Harrington (1997), and Hartsock (2000). We can conclude that despite the relative closeness of the media and political space, with the innovative use of the novelistic techniques and elements of narration, the journalists were able to provide quality journalism to their readers and at the same time to avoid the censorship.


Panel I

Panel Title: "Teaching Literary Journalism: From English to Journalism and Back Again"

Moderator: Norman Sims (University of Massachusetts-Amherst, U.S.A.)

Mark Massé (Ball State University, U.S.A.)
Bill Reynolds (Ryerson University, Canada)
Alice Trindade (Instituto Superior de Ciências Sociais e Políticas, Portugal)

DESCRIPTION This panel seeks to elucidate and examine various methodologies used in English departments and journalism schools to teach literary journalism. Each approach has its own challenges, yet both seek the richest possible cultural inculcation of literary journalism. How does each approach explicate and differentiate literary journalism, how does each explain the depth of the interview and research processes at stake and, finally, how does each seek to explain the thrill of crossing the intensity of academic-style research with the inspirational art of high-quality literary writing?


PARTICIPANTS "Do unto them as they would do unto literary journalism: teaching writer methodologies", Bill Reynolds, Ryerson, Canada, reynolds@ryerson.ca: Just as the literary journalist goes "long and deep" into researching a story, so I as the educator would go "long and deep" through the study of one particular work. My method involves researching one author through primary and secondary sources, including information readily available on the Internet and databases, and then interviewing the journalist about his or her work, in some depth and with particular attention paid to one specific piece. I want to discuss briefly how students react to that kind of teaching, and whether it is worthwhile to continue teaching in that vein.

"Literary Journalism as a Tool for Critical Thought", Alice Trindade, Instituto Superior de Ciências Sociais e Políticas, Portugal, atrindade@iscsp.utl.pt: In an environment in which large classes and learning by rote is still predominant, I aim to use literary journalism with my English language students in three chief ways: to improve their knowledge of the English language, to foster reading in general and to get them to think critically, using the techniques used in literary journalism as a model of well crafted, personal writing based on facts and research - the fruit of honest intellectual labour.

"The multicultural benefits of teaching literary journalism", Mark Massé, Ball State University, U.S.A., MHMASSE@bsu.edu: How literary journalism opens a two-way dialogue about cultures. For example, Muskie fellowship students from former Soviet nations learn about American society on multiple levels through works of literary journalism. Their own original narrative nonfiction writing informs American audiences about social and cultural issues from their different, foreign perspectives.

Other possible discussion points: The connection between culture and writing practice: do people from different cultures have different writing methodologies, which reflect (wittingly or unwittingly) their different cultures. What particular issues arise when teaching literary journalism with the focus on the finished product (literature) rather than the process? How are the principles of credibility, ethics and artistic merit used by literary journalism educators to teach their students?

Saturday, 19th May 2007 (Salle Jean Monnet, CERI)

Research Paper Session III

Session Title: "Literary Journalism and the Commonwealth"

Moderator: J. Michael Lyons (Indiana University, U.S.A.)

1. Willa McDonald (Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia): "Writings of Displacement: The Literary Journalism of Arnold Zable"
2. Lynne van Luven (University of Victoria, Canada): "Twenty Years Beyond Definition: How the Practice of Literary Journalism in Canada has Assumed New Guises"

Sometimes a cynical observer might wonder if the practice of literary journalism in
Canada will forever be undermined by three contradictory camps: the scoffing hard-news journalists who dismiss it as “sissy stuff”; the insouciant novelists-manqué who never let the facts get in the way of a good story; and the stiff-necked academic critics who bicker fruitlessly about definitions. And while all such contenders do take occasional swipes at each other, their arguments pale in the face of the vigorous practice of a new generation of non-fiction writers. Over the past 20 years, Canadian non-fiction has garnered respect as sophisticated and complex literature. It has moved beyond the popular histories of Pierre Berton and the nature sagas of Farley Mowat into a variety of more flexible and far-reaching forms, including cultural criticism, biography, history and memoir. And it has managed to do so under a welter of contending titles: its practitioners may variously term it creative non-fiction, narrative non-fiction or personal journalism. Some even adopt the term literary journalism. Such writers as Charlotte Gray, James MacKinnon, Rita Moir, Bruce McKillop and Charles Montgomery have undertaken the writing of true stories which are dramatic and compelling. These are books written with the telling details favoured by Lillian Ross or Joan Didion, with the political clarity of George Orwell. This paper contends Canadian non-fiction functions as literature that both records and queries individual “true stories,” the most enduring of which have resonance within the public realm.


Poster Session III

Session Title: "Forms of Literary Journalism: From Pamphlets to Newspapers to Blogs"

Moderator: John Kenny (National University of Ireland, Ireland)

1. Sara Niblock (Brunel University, U.K.): "The Reflexive Practice of Immersionist News Reporting in Mainstream Newspapers"
2. José de Kruif (Universiteit Utrecht, Holland): "Literary Genres in Nineteenth Century Pamphlets and Newspapers: A Methodological Discussion on Text Mining and Genre Analysis"
3. Viviane Serfaty (Université de Marne-la-Vallée, France): "Online Political Commitment as a Journalistic Genre"
4. Rutger de Graaf (Universiteit Utrecht, Holland): "Literary Genres in Local Pamphlets and Newspapers, 1813-1899"


Research Paper Session IV

Session Title: "Literary Journalism's Definitions and Interpretations"

Moderator: Jenny McKay (University of Stirling, Scotland)

1. Sonia Fernández Parrat (Facultad de CC de la Información, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain): "Journalism as Interpreter of Reality through Long-form Narrative Technique"
2. John Hartsock (SUNY Cortland, U.S.A.): "Is Literary Reportage Literary Journalism? Yes, No, and Maybe"


Poster Session IV

Session Title: "Literary Journalism: Theory, Differentiation and Pedagogy"

Moderator: Lynne van Luven (University of Victoria, Canada)

1. John Kenny (National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland): "Internationalising the Middle Page: John Banville as Literary Journalist and Editor"
2. Anna Jungstrand (Institutionen för litteraturvetenskap och idéhistoria, Stockholms Universitet, Sweden): "Subjectivity in Reportage: From Acknowledgement to Analysis with a Narratological Approach"
3. Doug Underwood (University of Washington, U.S.A.): "Journalistic Versatility and Literary Experimentation: The Transformation of the 'Familiar History' of the Eighteenth Century into the Categories of Fiction, Biography, and Literary Journalism Today"
4. Greg Rubinson (UCLA, U.S.A.): "Teaching Students to Write Like Human Beings: Overcoming the Tyranny of Traditional Academic Writing with Literary Journalism"

Panel II

Panel Title: "Can Film Be Literary Journalism?"

Moderator: William Dow (Université de Valenciennes and The American University of Paris, France)

John S. Bak (I.D.E.A., Nancy-Université C.T.U., France)
Susan Greenberg (Roehampton University, U.K.)
John C. Hartsock (SUNY Cortland, U.S.A)


DESCRIPTION This panel seeks to start an open-ended discussion that has so far arisen only in a tangential way within both journalism and film. What constitutes literary journalism in film? Which of the two media, print and film, provides a more "real" or "true" portrait of the world? What difference do new digital platforms make? The aim is to begin establishing a site?for further critical reflection and ultimately scholarship.

PARTICIPANTS "Using film to teach journalism as a literary form," John Bak, Nancy 2, France, john.bak@univ-nancy2.fr: The question that I tend to raise is not, can film be literary journalism, which I think it can, but can literary journalism be film, about which I have my doubts. Once the narrative voice is lost as a medium between the subject and the audience-that voice which controls not only the details but the tone, often ironic, as well-the film seemingly takes on more of a fictional role. And when selecting films to show a class in literary journalism, the question arises, what constitutes literary journalism in film? Is it films based on works of literary journalism, films by people who happen to be literary journalists or films about journalism that add a fictive flavor to the activity?

"Text vs images: which is more 'real'?" John Hartsock, SUNY Cortland, NY, USA, hartsockj@cortland.edu: Film can seem more "real" to the viewer than text, because images work more directly on our mind. But feature films use a medium within a medium: an actor, who has a life beyond the film, and the film itself. Does this make film at twice a remove from the reader/viewer? In the case of print, there is only one remove – an abstract symbol system we call the alphabet. Do similar issues arise with films that use real people and places?

"The digital dimension", Susan Greenberg, Roehampton University, London, UK, s.greenberg@roehampton.ac.uk: Traditionally, film has been less flexible than text; partly because of the medium's qualities, but also because it requires a good deal more investment. But with the development of digital platforms, film might be catching up. In addition, some people – noticing a shift from textual to visual literacy – are heralding the "death of text". In practice, however, we shift between words and pictures all the time. It is all the more interesting, then, that both literary journalism and documentary film – the most obvious visual parallel – are working their way through very similar debates. These include the transparency of the narrative process, the power relationship between author and source and the rights and wrongs of hybrids.

Closing Convocation

John S. Bak (I.D.E.A., Nancy-Université C.T.U., France)