Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2023

Course Description

Human beings are wired for stories. Our species has told stories since the beginning but in the last two decades storytelling has exploded across genres and platforms. As we moved from oral to printed stories, books and the printed word reigned for the longest. The arrival off radio, film and television in the 20th century set the stage for what we are experiencing now. Never has it been easier to find stories of all kinds. This semester we’ll be demystifying and analyzing what makes up effective narrative. They call it narratology, which is the study of narrative structure. Narratology looks at what narratives have in common and what makes one different from another. That will be our chief work this semester, examining written, visual and oral narratives.

Over the course of the semester you will read, critique and analyze news stories, literary pieces, podcasts, books, TV shows and at least one movie adaptation. For each of these you will always respond to what the writer-director-producer did with the story. This is very different from writing about the content per se. Everything in creative life is a decision.

Your job is to think critically through what the content creator decided to do, not so much respond to what you liked or not. This is the key to every assignment. If you were writing about that film, you’d refer to her by name and focus your comments on what she as the director did. Smart papers are 300-500 word responses to what you read with an eye on the creative decisions.

Student Outcomes

Course Goals:

  • Identifying structural patterns and techniques used in narratives across platforms and genres.

  • Developing a language for critiquing and dissecting narratives.

  • Articulating what shifted and why when a story moved from one format to another.

  • Developing an eye for the ways characters evolve over stories.

  • Identifying and articulating a piece’s flaws and strengths.