Accepting Applications—Master Class: Nonfiction Writing with Ted Conover, Roger Hodge, and Duncan Murrell

Master Class: Nonfiction Writing guest instructors Ted Conover (left) and Roger Hodge (right)

The Center for Documentary Studies is pleased to announced that National Book Critics Circle Award winner Ted Conover and former editor of Harper’s Magazine Roger Hodge will lead week-long workshops this summer in narrative nonfiction, journalism, and documentary writing. This is an unusual opportunity to work closely with two of our finest writers and editors in a small workshop on the craft of nonfiction narrative. Conover (August 1-6) and Hodge (August 8-13) will each lead a workshop of eight students in the refining and shaping of ongoing student projects. They will be joined by CDS Writer in Residence Duncan Murrell and other guests for classes and discussions on topics of interest to working writers.

Admission to the workshops will be competitive, with priority going to accomplished and published writers with projects they’d like to work on while in residence. “These are unusual workshops,” Murrell said. “We’ll be treating the reporting and writing of real, documented stories as not only an act of journalism, but as a creative art that can be taught and encouraged in a writing workshop. It’s a rare combination for a workshop, and one we’re committed to exploring and expanding here at CDS.”

Enrollment in the course will be determined on a rolling-admission basis. Please read guidelines carefully before applying.


Session I: Monday, August 1–Saturday, August 6
Instructors: Ted Conover, Duncan Murrell

Session II: Monday, August 8–Saturday, August 13
Instructors: Roger Hodge, Duncan Murrell

Intended for advanced writers of narrative nonfiction, this workshop brings students together with professional writers and editors for an intense week of collaborative discussion, revision, and writing. Students in the workshop will read and discuss the ongoing projects of fellow students, work individually with the instructors to refine and shape their own projects, and participate in readings and round-table discussions with top figures in the publishing world. Throughout the week, students will have the space and time for sustained, concentrated writing, as well as access to the world-class Duke University Libraries system. Because this is a workshop, it’s assumed students have either begun or completed an early draft of the writing project they’d like to work on while in residence. This is a workshop on craft, structure, and the art of writing great nonfiction, and a rare opportunity to be guided closely by top editors and writers.

TUITION: $750 per session


Applicants should submit:

(1) A list of publications (title, date, publication);

(2) A sample of the project (no more than 5,000 words) you wish to work on while in residence at the workshop. This sample could be a draft of the full story, a draft of sections of the story, a detailed outline with notes, or some combination of these. For the purposes of the workshop, it’s essential that you complete the bulk of your reporting, documenting, and research before arriving. There will be some time for research and reporting, but most of our time in the workshop will be spent working on the writing of our stories—structuring them, polishing them, developing a voice, establishing a style.

(3) A cover letter introducing yourself and your work, and explaining in detail what you hope to get out of the workshop. In your cover letter, please tell us which workshop week you prefer. You should also tell us whether or not the other week is also possible. Your cover letter should also include your mailing address, email address, and phone number.

Send all materials electronically to with “Master Class: Nonfiction Writing” in the subject line. Applicants will be notified of their acceptance on a rolling-admission basis.


Ted Conover is the author of five books, most recently The Routes of Man, about roads, and Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing, an account of his ten months spent working as a corrections officer at New York’s Sing Sing Prison. Newjack won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2001 and was finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His other books are Whiteout: Lost in Aspen, Coyotes: A Journey Across Borders With America’s Illegal Migrants, and Rolling Nowhere: Riding the Rails With America’s Hoboes. A summa cum laude graduate of Amherst College, Conover spent two years at Cambridge University as a Marshall Scholar. In 2001, he received an honorary doctorate from Amherst and in 2003, a Guggenheim Fellowship. In recent years he has taught at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, and the University of Oregon. He contributes to many publications, including The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, National Geographic, and Virginia Quarterly Review.

Roger D. Hodge is the author of The Mendacity of Hope: Barack Obama and the Betrayal of American Liberalism, published by HarperCollins in October 2010. He was the editor-in-chief of Harper’s Magazine from 2006 to 2010. Hodge began his journalism career as a freelance writer in 1989. After a lengthy detour through the thickets of academic philosophy, Hodge joined the staff of Harper’s in 1996, created the magazine’s Findings column, as well as the online Weekly Review, and was a National Magazine Award finalist for Reviews and Criticism in 2006. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife and their two sons.

Duncan Murrell is an instructor at the Center for Documentary Studies. He is a contributing editor at Harper’s Magazine and The Normal School. His work has also appeared in Poets & Writers, The Oxford American, Southern Cultures, and many other publications. Murrell was an editor at Algonquin Books, where he acquired and edited several national bestsellers in fiction and nonfiction. He is a graduate of Cornell University and Northwestern University, and has been a resident at Yaddo.

In this video, Roger Hodge, the former editor of Harper’s Magazine, discusses the prospects of long-form journalism into the future as he recounts his experiences working with writers and offers his perspectives on the shifting landscape in the publishing industry.

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    2 Responses to “Accepting Applications—Master Class: Nonfiction Writing with Ted Conover, Roger Hodge, and Duncan Murrell”

    1. Andrew Park says:

      This sounds amazing. I wish I had something suitable in the works to satisfy the prereq. How can I learn about these kinds of opportunities in the future? Put another way, how does one get more closely in touch with the center?

    2. admin says:

      Hi Andrew!

      There are several ways to keep up with opportunities and news at the Center for Documentary Studies. We post regularly here on the CDS Porch blog, and you can follow us on our CDS Facebook page (, and on CDS twitter (

      In addition, you can sign up for our weekly newsletter here:

      Thank you for your interest!

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