New Class!

How to Write the Gonzo Essay

Friday, October 2nd, from 10:00am-5:00pm
Remote (Live Zoom Meetings)
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Level: For Everyone
Adult (18+)
12 seats max

Can I overcome my fear of swinging on a trapeze? What would happen if I embarked on a quest for the perfect fried clam, joined a biker gang, or infiltrated a political party? If you've ever hankered to try something you've never done before and turn your experiences into a gripping narrative, this class is for you. Also known as "gonzo" or "stunt" journalism, the immersion essay is the ideal format for you to not only pose a burning question but also to get out into the field to search for answers.

In this six-hour seminar, you'll read, analyze, and be inspired by masters such as A.J. Jacobs, Daniel Nester, and Vishavjit Singh to understand the best techniques and structures to tell a personal "gonzo" narrative. Then, you'll do some freewriting focused on your primary investigation and brainstorm what you hope to discover. Via small assignments and field exercises, you'll get a crash-course in personal immersion field reporting. Next, you'll design the parameters for your own possible stunt, quest, or experiment. We'll discuss your ideas in class to strengthen them, and look at publications that accept these sorts of essays. You'll leave with a plan to kickstart your stunt investigation, and some words on the page that will serve as a rough first draft for your gonzo project essay. Bring a reporter's notebook.


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Ethan Gilsdorf
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Previous Students Say

  • "High-Energy Class"
  • "Interactive"


  • Concept Development
  • Class Discussion
  • In-Class Reading
  • Lecture
  • In-Class Writing
  • Craft Lessons
  • Generate New Work


  • Personal Essay
  • Literary Journalism
  • Nonfiction

Commitment Level



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