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Book Launch

Learning How to Swim: Negotiating Immersion in Journalism and in Social Science

04/11 Tuesday | 6pm

The Institute for Public Knowledge and the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at NYU invite you to join us for a conversation about how journalists and social scientists negotiate the challenges of spending extended periods of time with the people they’re writing about in immersive reporting and research, the subject of Ted Conover’s new book, Immersion: A Writer’s Guide to Going Deep. Writer Eyal Press will moderate a discussion with Conover, David Grazian, Arlene Stein, and Lawrence Weschler.

Conover describes ethnographers as the “cousins” of nonfiction writers. Yet there are important differences between how the members of these different fields go about their crafts, from standards around anonymity and codes of ethics in documentation to how they construct narratives from the things they learn. The panel of writers and scholars will use Conover’s book as a point of departure for a wide-ranging conversation on ethics and truth, research and storytelling.


Ted Conover is the author of numerous books of immersive nonfiction including Rolling Nowhere, Coyotes, and Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing, which won the National Book Critics’ Circle Award. He contributes to the New York Times Magazine, Harper’s, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and other publications and teaches at NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute.

Eyal Press is a journalist based in New York and a visiting scholar at the Institute for Public Knowledge. A past recipient of the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism, he is a contributor to The New Yorker, The New York Times and numerous other publications. He is the author of Beautiful Souls, an inquiry into the nature of moral courage, and Absolute Convictions, a narrative account of the abortion conflict.

David Grazian is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, and a fellow at the Institute for Public Knowledge. He employs a variety of ethnographic and other qualitative methods to study the production and consumption of commercial entertainment and is the author, most recently, of American Zoo: A Sociological Safari.

Arlene Stein is Professor of Sociology at Rutgers University, where she is director of the Institute for Research on Women. Her latest book (with Jessie Daniels) is Going Public: A Guide for Social Scientists, published by the University of Chicago Press. She is completing a trade book about transgender men and the future of gender, which will appear next  year.

Lawrence Wechsler, a veteran of twenty years at The New Yorker and Director Emeritus of the NY Institute for the Humanities at NYU, is the author of nearly twenty books of narrative nonfiction, including most recently Waves Passing in the Night: Walter Murch in the Land of the Astrophysicists.

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