What is the course about?
‘Everyone’s a critic’: we all have a response to and an opinion of the works of art that we consume.
But good reviewing communicates the pleasures or pains of the experience, describing, interpreting and evaluating the work for the benefit of others, with a level of seriousness appropriate to the work itself. This course invites students interested in and wishing to write as reviewers to explore the practice of reviewing across the major art forms, by looking at the work of leading practitioners and producing their own critical writing for class discussion.
What will we cover?
- Examine approaches to reviewing books, films, television productions, music, museums, and visual art.
- Explore key individual elements of good review writing, such as research and subject knowledge, structure, focus, beginnings and endings, humour, subjectivity and objectivity, critical jargon, and ways of expressing praise or disparagement of a work.
- Discuss the different professional outlets for reviewing e.g. the 1000-word book review, the 500-word film review, the column, the brief ‘capsule’ or listings review etc.
- How to make an effective pitch.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
- Develop your skills as a critic/reviewer.
- Enhance your appreciation of the techniques employed by the best reviewers in their fields.
- Be able to write reviews with greater attention to style and structure.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
The course is open to aspiring writers of whatever standard, experience or ambition, who are fluent in written and spoken English.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
Each class will include analysis and discussion of outstanding examples of critical work across various art forms. Short writing tasks will be set in each session to help you develop your skills. Between classes, students will be required to produce written work for presentation and discussion in class. The volume of this work will be dependent on class size. Students will need to consume books, films, performances keenly in their own time in order to have material for these writing exercises.
All writing courses at City Lit will involve an element of workshop. This means that students will produce work which will be discussed in an open and constructive environment with the tutor and other students. The college operates a policy of constructive criticism, and all feedback on another student’s work by the tutor and other students should be delivered in that spirit.
For classes longer than one day regular reading and writing exercises will be set for completion at home to set deadlines.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
All published textual examples of review writing for class discussion will be provided to students. Students should bring a notebook and pen or laptop or whatever tool they prefer for the making of notes.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
City Lit offers a range of courses of a journalistic nature. The best follow on from this course would be Reviewing museums, exhibitions and galleries. You might also want to check out Writing about food and Travel writing. For more information, search the writing section of our website.