Date: May 1, 2024

Time: 6.30pm-8.30pm

Duration: 6 weeks

Level: Professional Development |

Cost: €165 (€150)

This course will take place online on Wednesdays for 6 weeks.

Course Summary

This six weeks’ course on writing reviews will help writers find their voice while studying different genres of literature, including poetry, fiction and film. The field of criticism is greatly responsible for evolution of the cultural canon; by interrogating the motivation and politics behind this culture, the participants will be encouraged to evolve informed and self-conscious ways of reviewing. They will acquire skills in effectively reading, criticising, and appreciating literature in different forms. The course will also train the participants in dissemination of work in magazines and newspapers.

Course Outline

The students will be focusing on politics, ideologies and motivation behind the culture of book reviewing. They will also produce reviews during this module and learn to disseminate their work.  Detailed breakdown of the course is below:

Week 1: How to read a text

The most fundamental skill of a reviewer is effective reading. In the first week, the participants will be taught to read critically. They will be trained in the skill of reading with an awareness of cultural context in which the text has been framed; for instance, to appreciate the work of Sally Rooney, the participants must manage to locate the text in the context of contemporary Irish experimental fiction canon. The participants will gain the skill of evaluating layers of meaning in the content and form of a book.

Week 2: Politics of reviewing

Different cultures of reviewing are motivated by the demands of the literary market. While mainstream platforms might support reviews of prospective bestsellers, dissident platforms invite reviews of lesser known and minority voices. The participants will be encouraged to reflect on trends in the field. This will allow them to identify platforms for publication in a more informed manner.

Week 3: Studying the genre: journalistic or creative form of writing?

Reviews can be placed in different generic categories; while some are journalistic, other could be more experimental and draw from essayistic and autobiographical writing. The participants will be encouraged to identify these generic categories and assess the quality and effectiveness of different reviews. The samples will be drawn from TLS, London Review of Books and New York Review of Books.

Week 4: Finding your voice

The participants will be encouraged to reflect on their review writing styles. They will be asked to reflect on their aims and objectives as reviewers. They will identify texts that will review and would reflect on their motivations as reviewers.

Week 5: Reshaping the field.

The participants will be encouraged to write reviews that will contribute to field of reviewing in original and pathbreaking ways. This will involve evaluating existing literary and reviewing trends. They will be encouraged to make original contributions to the field.

Week 6: Pitching the review and getting published

In the final week, the participants will learn practical tips and tricks that will help them get published. It will involve learning about identifying platforms and making a persuasive pitch. They will also be encouraged to manage expectations and introduced to the challenges as well as incentives of reviewing.

The course will require two submissions:

1. In preparation for Week-4, participants will write an auto-ethnographic piece that will focus on their philosophy as reviewers.
2. Following the session in Week-5, participants will write a book review of their choice.
3. In the final session, the participants will be encouraged to submit their pitches and work to a magazine.

Course Outcomes

1. Course participants will be better equipped in reading and evaluating literary works.
2. Course participants will gain an understanding of the culture of reviewing.
3. Course participants will learn how to write original reviews.
4. Course participants will learn to pitch ideas and disseminate their work.

Tapasya Narang is an experienced instructor with over seven years of teaching experience. Her work has appeared in The Poetry Review by Poetry Society London, Poetry Ireland Review, Books Ireland, RTE Brainstorm, and various other prestigious platforms.