Spring Workshops for Undergraduate Writers

The Lede and the Kicker: How to Shape an Essay

Led by Doreen St. Félix

February 23-25, 2024

Workshop meeting times:

Friday, Feb 23: 3 pm-8 pm

Saturday, Feb 24: 10 am-5 pm

Sunday, Feb 25: 10 am -2 pm

When does a story begin? When does a story end? Students in this workshop explore the journalistic ideas of the lede and the kicker as they experiment with the conventions of essay structure. Central to this workshop is the reader — how we as writers, in shaping the entrance and exit of our narratives, keep the reader’s attention. Students have the opportunity to discuss and provide feedback on each others’ pieces, as well as analyze works of nonfiction by writers including James Baldwin, Gay Talese, and Joan Acocella. In conversation with St. Félix, students leave this workshop with an expanded sense of what various shapes the essay can take. 

Doreen St. Félix is a staff writer at the New Yorker, where she covers the intersection of culture and politics, with a special interest in race and performance. She has also served as the magazine’s television critic. Her writing has appeared in the Times Magazine, New York, Vogue, The Fader, and Pitchfork. She won the 2019 National Magazine Award for Criticism.

Registration for this workshop is now closed.

Sound Stories: An Introduction to Audio Storytelling

Led by Benjamin Naddaff-Hafrey

March 8-10, 2024

Workshop meeting times:

Friday, March 8: 3 pm-8 pm

Saturday, March 9: 10 am-5 pm

Sunday, March 10: 10 am-2 pm

What makes a great story, and what makes a story sing in audio? Pushkin Industries senior producer and host Benjamin Naddaff-Hafrey takes students through the process of building an audio story — from story-hunting, sourcing, reporting, and researching to drafting and editing. Drawing on his experience making The Last Archive, a podcast about the history of evidence, and working with authors such as Jill Lepore and Malcolm Gladwell, Naddaff-Hafrey teaches students how to look for stories and build them into full podcast episodes. Students should bring ideas for their own podcast episodes, as they learn to hone and build audio stories from the ground up.

Benjamin Naddaff-Hafrey is a senior producer at Pushkin Industries, where he writes and hosts The Last Archive, a podcast about the history of evidence. He has been a producer at NPR, and his writing has appeared in the Yale Review, Curbed, Aeon, American Songwriter, and Pacific-Standard. He is also a musician and has composed scores for BBC Radio.

Workshops are held over a weekend, beginning on Friday afternoon and ending on Sunday, at the Townsend Center for the Humanities (220 Stephens Hall). Students must commit to participating in the entire workshop over three days.

Space is limited to 15 students per workshop, and is first come, first served. All UC Berkeley undergraduates in their sophomore year or above are welcome to register. 

Registration deadline is February 23, 2024. To register, please fill out this registration form

If you have questions, please contact Jane Liaw at janeliaw@berkeley.edu.