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 and interpreting 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.
Michael Caines is an editor and regular reviewer for the Times Literary Supplement. Since 2000, he has written about art, fiction, film, poetry, radio and theatre for publications including the Guardian, the TLS and the Wall Street Journal; and published a book of his own called 'Shakespeare and the Eighteenth Century' (Oxford University Press, 2013). He is working on a very short book to be called 'Posh Bingo: The irresistible rise of the literary prize'.
Build reserves the right to change course tutors from those advertised in this outline. In line with our refund policy we are unable to grant a refund on the grounds of a change of tutor.
What will we cover?
We will examine ways to go about reviewing books, films, television productions, music, live performances, and visual art. Along the way we will address and 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. Attention will be paid to 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.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
Have developed your skills as a critic/reviewer; enhanced your appreciation of the various art forms and the techniques employed by the best reviewers in their fields; and exercised and improved your critical faculties both in respect of your own writing and the work of others.
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. Students will be required between classes to produce written work for presentation and discussion in class, the volume of this work dependent on class size; and they 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 Build 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?
General information and advice on courses at Build is available from the Student Centre and Library on Monday to Friday from 12:00 – 19:00.
See the course guide for term dates and further details