I’m an instructor with UCLA Extension’s Writer’s Program. As an instructor, it is my role to help build a writer’s skills, and bring out their voice so that they may use it to tell others’ tales. I do this in two classes: Writing the Thinkpiece, an existing course I built a new curriculum for, and Writing the Review, a whole new course I developed for the program.
Writing the Review (April 6, 2021 – June 8, 2021)
Everybody’s a critic, or so they say. When you can share any and every opinion on social media, what makes professionally published reviews special? Why should one person’s take on a movie, TV show, book, or other piece of art matter more than yours or mine? But the truth lies in the opposite: When everyone has a platform to offer their opinion, learning the true art of criticism is all the more important for standing out. In this course, we learn how to effectively and compellingly craft cultural critiques in the 2020s, with units on film, TV, books, literature, and more. We’ll read such critics as Emily Nussbaum, Wesley Morris, and Doreen St. Felix, while exploring the different multimedia platforms criticism can live on today. The focus of this class is be on sharpening your critical faculties and developing your voice as a writer, with the ultimate goal of finding your space as a respected critic.
Writing the Thinkpiece
Perhaps no genre is more shared, read, and critiqued than the online thinkpiece. As much as these essays capture and analyze the current cultural landscape, they are often misunderstood as quick, cheap, or reactionary. The truth is that the genre is malleable enough for any writer to find their footing and to craft their voice within its limits. Together, we define what a thinkpiece is and is not by reading some of its most well-known writers, including Roxane Gay, Kiese Laymon, and Rebecca Solnit. Then, we work on honing your voice, researching your argument, and giving structure to your ideas. Participants walk away from the course with several pieces of polished work.