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A Field Guide for Immersion Writing

Memoir, Journalism, and Travel

Robin Hemley

Publication Year: 2012

For centuries writers have used participatory experience as a lens through which to better see the world at large and as a means of exploring the self. Considering various types of participatory writing as different strains of one style—immersion writing—Robin Hemley offers new perspectives and practical advice for writers of this nonfiction genre.

Immersion writing can be broken down into the broad categories of travel writing, immersion memoir, and immersion journalism. Using the work of such authors as Barbara Ehrenreich, Hunter S. Thompson, Ted Conover, A. J. Jacobs, Nellie Bly, Julio Cortazar, and James Agee, Hemley examines these three major types of immersion writing and further identifies the subcategories of the quest, the experiment, the investigation, the infiltration, and the reenactment. Included in the book are helpful exercises, models for immersion writing, and a chapter on one of the most fraught subjects for nonfiction writers—the ethics and legalities of writing about other people.

A Field Guide for Immersion Writing recalibrates and redefines the way writers approach their relationship to their subjects. Suitable for beginners and advanced writers, the book provides an enlightening, provocative, and often amusing look at the ways in which nonfiction writers engage with the world around them.

A Friends Fund Publication.

Published by: University of Georgia Press


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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. ix-x

I’m grateful to the following for their wise counsel and their enthusiasm for this volume. Erika Stevens initially approached me to write this book. I’m grateful to her for her enthusiasm for the idea and for nudging me to write it...

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An Introduction to Immersion Writing: Its Similarities and Differences from the Traditional Memoir and Traditional Journalism

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pp. 1-10

Every few months I read or hear of a fresh attack on the memoir. Very little excuse is needed to trigger the righteous indignation of a reviewer...

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CHAPTER ONE: Immersion Memoir

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pp. 11-54

The first question we have to ask is this: aren’t all memoirs immersions? Isn’t that one of the criticisms of them? The answer is simple. I don’t mean immersion in the sense of yet deeper self- involvement...

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CHAPTER TWO: Immersion Journalism

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pp. 55-94

Memoir does not require the memoirist to venture outside into the world. There are plenty of memoirists who spend their days simply writing about the long- ago past. But most journalism requires a certain amount...

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CHAPTER THREE: Travel Writing

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pp. 95-145

Here’s a bold assertion: I’d like to claim Herodotus, the socalled Father of History, as the first immersion writer. The first travel writer, too, he was no armchair traveler, but a true globetrotter of the ancient world,...

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CHAPTER FOUR: Ethical and Legal Considerations

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pp. 146-167

Most writers I know live somewhere between dread and denial when it comes to legal matters and ethics. I’m no exception. With both Invented Eden and Do- Over, I worried throughout the writing process that someone...

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pp. 168-184

When I first considered writing a book about the Tasaday hoax controversy, I needed to write a proposal. By no means do all books, articles, or essays need proposals. As David Shields said to me not long ago,

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Conclusion: Say What You See

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pp. 185-187

In the restaurant of the Presidente Hotel in Havana, Cuba, tourists from various countries mingle around the familiar breakfast buffet: meats and cheeses for the Europeans, a coff ee machine for café latte, cappuccino, and espresso...

For Further Reading

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pp. 189-193

E-ISBN-13: 9780820343730
E-ISBN-10: 0820343730
Print-ISBN-13: 9780820338507
Print-ISBN-10: 0820338508

Page Count: 192
Publication Year: 2012

OCLC Number: 812208750
MUSE Marc Record: Download for A Field Guide for Immersion Writing

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Subject Headings

  • Reportage literature -- Authorship.
  • Creative nonfiction.
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