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CWP | Writer as Witness


  • Literature
    Fax: 202-885-2938
    Battelle Tompkins, Room 237

    Rangel-Mullin, Rebecca
    Sr. Administrative Assistant

Mailing Address

2014 Writer as Witness Colloquium

The Influencing Machine cover

Featuring: The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone on the Media
by Brooke Gladstone

Where/When: Bender Arena
Wednesday, September 3


On behalf of the Department of Literature and the College Writing Program, we welcome you to American University. To set the stage for your first year here at AU, we have chosen a book that we call our "community text" for you to read before you arrive in August. You and your classmates will discuss the book and write about it in your College Writing class. The College Writing Program and the Campus Store will also sponsor an essay contest to honor the best writing inspired by the community text.

We're delighted to announce this year's choice: Brooke Gladstone's The Influencing Machine. We will bring Ms. Gladstone to campus this fall for the seventeenth annual Writer as Witness Colloquium on Wednesday, September 3, at 8:00 p.m. in Bender Arena. She will address the American University community and meet with students and faculty to discuss the book.

In The Influencing Machine, Gladstone's incisive analysis of the media -- its history, its controversies, and its technological transformation -- is presented largely through illustration by alternative cartoonist Josh Neufeld whose visual rhetoric conveys the complexities of Gladstone's critique. But if this is a sort of comic book, it's one with "zest and brains--and it just might help a reader understand the brave new world" (The New Yorker). Gladstone's research is comprehensive, but her analysis leaves room for readers to consider the nature of bias and power. Finally, The Influencing Machine invites us to reflect on our own responsibility to shape our world(s).

Co-host of NPR's On the Media and senior editor of All Things Considered, Brooke Gladstone is also the recipient of two Peabody Awards, a National Press Club Award, and an Overseas Press Club Award. Among her other accomplishments, she was an NPR Moscow-based reporter, its first media reporter, and the senior editor of Weekend Edition with Scott Simon.


Biographical information from www.onthemedia.org


See full Writer as Witness 2014 Announcement.

AU Campus Store

AU Library Resources for The Influencing Machine


Previous Writer as Witness Texts

2013: Notes from No Man's Land, by Eula Biss.

2012: The End of Country, by Seamus McGraw.

2011: The Good Soldiers, by David Finkel

2010: The Moral Underground: How Ordinary Americans Subvert an Unfair Economy, by Lisa Dodson

2009: True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society, by Farhad Manjoo

2008: The Devil's Highway, by Luis Alberto Urrea

2007: The Ponds of Kalambayi, by Mike Tidwell

2006: Love in the Driest Season, by Neely Tucker

2005: Fragments of Grace, by Pamela Constable

2004: Newjack, by Ted Conover

2003: First They Killed My Father, by Loung Ung

2002: Savage Inequalities, by Jonathan Kozol

2001: Bad Land, by Jonathan Raban

2000: Almost a Woman, by Esmeralda Santiago

1999: My Own Country, by Abraham Verghese

1998: There Are No Children Here, by Alex Kotlowitz


Deadline: Tuesday, November 11
Top Prize: $200
Runners-Up Prizes: Gift cards from AU Campus Store

Read 2013 winner Lindsay Maizland's Writer as Witness Contest Essay: "The Lenses of Truth: Photographers' Moral Responsibility to Document Injustice in Most Situations"

Once you’ve read The Influencing Machine and have heard Brooke Gladstone speak on Wednesday, September 3rd, you’ll have the opportunity to contribute your voice to the Writer as Witness Program.

Open to all College Writing students. Sponsored by the College Writing Program and AU Campus Store.

For more information please contact Mary Switalski:

AU Store Discount
& Library Resources

AU Library Resources for The Influencing Machine

The AU Campus Store will be offering The Influencing Machine at a discount. Copies will also be available for purchase at the Campus Store during New Student Orientations, when you’ll have your first opportunity to talk with classmates about the text.