Course Overview: This course features journalism and the American Dream. More specifically, it focuses on the ways in which journalists have written about the "rags to riches" myth popularized by Horatio Alger in the late nineteenth century; even more specifically, it features the work of Hunter S. Thompson, who in the 1970s, made an infamous — now famous — visit to Las Vegas in which he both mastered the art of Gonzo journalism and turned the American Dream on its head. The course begins with the antecedents of this story, first told by American Revolutionaries; the story was then reimagined before the Civil War, defined and redefined in the later part of the nineteenth century, and it has been subsequently accepted as a standard part of Americana. We will spend the second half of the semester looking at Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as both a critique of the American Dream and as an extraordinary account of the city. You will be required to develop your own sample of Gonzo journalism by first demonstrating a familiarity with the rules of conventional reporting, and then breaking these rules effectively and in various contexts. Parts of the first half of the semester may be familiar to undergraduate students from my History of Journalism class. An extra course requirement will be assigned to graduate students.
Grading: Combined Scores
Another note about grades: In order
to earn an "A," you need not only to produce
exceptional work, but also to make a positive contribution to class.
Although I cannot assign a score for your attitude, participation at
least indirectly affects your performance and success.
Attendance: Please attend every lecture. You will find a wealth of information in the notes and readings, but you will lose the context needed for interpreting subjects if you miss class. If you are absent and I have not approved your absence in advance, you will receive a zero ("0") for graded course-related materials administered that day. I accept the following absences as excused:
Religious Holidays Policy: Any student missing class
quizzes, examinations, or any other class or lab work because of observance
of religious holidays shall be given an opportunity during that semester
to make up missed work. The make-up will apply to the religious holiday
absence only. It shall be the responsibility of the student to notify
the instructor no later than the end of the first two weeks of classes
of his or her intention to participate in religious holidays that do
not fall on state holidays or periods of class recess. This policy shall
not apply in the event that administering the test or examination at
an alternate time would impose an undue hardship on the instructor or
the university that could not reasonably been avoided. For additional
information, please visit the UNLV
Please Note: I will start class on time and expect you to be on time. Let me know if you have an on-going situation that could affect your arrival to class.
Rebelmail: By policy, faculty and staff should use Rebelmail accounts only. Rebelmail is UNLV's official e-mail system for students. It is one of the primary ways students receive official university communication such as information about deadlines, major campus events, and announcements. All UNLV students receive a Rebelmail account after they have been admitted to the university. Students' e-mail prefixes are listed on class rosters. The suffix is always @unlv.nevada.edu.
Disability Resource Center: The DRC
determines accommodations that are "reasonable" in promoting
the equal access of a student reporting a disability to the general
UNLV learning experience. In so doing, the DRC also balances instructor
and departmental interests in maintaining curricular standards so as
to best achieve a fair evaluation standard amongst students being assisted.
In order for the DRC to be effective it must be considered in the dialog
between the faculty and the student who is requesting accommodations.
For this reason faculty should only provide students course adjustment
after having received an "Academic Accommodation Plan." If
faculty members have any questions regarding the DRC, they should call
a DRC counselor. UNLV complies with the provisions set forth in Section
504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities
Act of 1990. The DRC is located in the Student Services Complex (SSC-A),
Room 143, phone 895-0866, fax 895-0651.
UNLV Writing Center: One-on-one or small group assistance
with writing is available free of charge to UNLV students at the Writing
Center, located in CDC-3-301. Although walk-in consultations are
sometimes available, students with appointments will receive priority
assistance. Appointments may be made in person or by calling 895-3908.
The student's Rebel ID Card, a copy of the assignment (if possible),
and two copies of any writing to be reviewed are requested for the consultation.
Nevada Revised Statutes 207.320: Any person who prepares
for sale or sells any term paper, thesis, dissertation or similar writing
intending such writing to be submitted to an academic institution as
the work of any person not the author in fulfillment of a requirement
for completion of a course of study, award of a degree or other academic
credit is guilty of a misdemeanor.
Office Hours: I will be in my office during the hours listed at the top of this syllabus (and by appointment), and I can be available at other times if arranged in advance. I want to encourage you to take advantage of office hours. I will not discuss individual test scores or grades in class, but if you have a question about how I've evaluated your work — or, better yet, questions about media history — please see me during office hours or at another time we arrange.
(Post-Midterm, updated Oct. 16)