All assignments (reading and blogs) are due at the beginning of the class, unless otherwise specified. Items under “recommended” are to guide critical thinking, writing, further reading (toward writing projects) but not required for that day. However, one can never do enough reading and thinking…

Part One: The Philosophy of the Essay

Week 1: Rethinking the Essay

M 1/28/13 [first class]

Required: Moore, Crafting the Personal Essay (chapters 1-3) + Jeff Porter, “A History and Poetics of the Essay” [pdf in Blackboard]

Recommended: As you make note of Moore’s initial definitions of the essay, compare/contrast your definitions and past experiences with the essay form. Begin use of Journal for response to reading from this week (we will further discuss the use of Journal in class—see description on home page)

Week 2: The Essay’s Beginnings

M 2/4

Required: Montaigne, “Of Repentance” [linked here] + Woolf, Death of the Moth [linked] + White, “Once More to the Lake” (pdf) + Dillard, “Death of a Moth” (pdf) + Moore, Crafting (chapters 4-7) + Blog due

Recommended: In your blog, in addition to providing an overview from your reading this week, focus in, contemplate and explore further a particular aspect from Montaigne, White, Woolf, Dillard or Moore (on the contemplative essay). See description of Blog assignment on homepage.

Week 3: Emerson and the Essay

M 2/11

Required: Emerson, “American Scholar” and  “Circles”  and “Experience” [linked] + Shields, Reality Hunger (chapters A through D) + blog

Recommended:  How might we apply Emerson’s notion of “creative reading” to Emerson’s own writing–to an essay such as “Circles”? What might this mean for our own reading and writing? “Experience” is one of the great essays in English–not a simple read. Use the commonplace form for some organization of your response: philosophy, rhetoric, poetics. Some rereading might be in order.

Week 4: Quotation and Originality

M 2/18

Required: Emerson, “Self-Reliance” and “Quotation and Originality” [linked] + Orwell, “Politics and the English Language” [linked] + Didion, “On Keeping a Notebook” [linked] + Blog

Recommended: How does Emerson view originality? What are the implications of this vision for a writer? for an essay? Do Orwell or Didion extend or depart from Emerson’s view of composition as recomposition?

Week 5: First Project: Philosophy of the Essay

M 2/25

Required: William Gass, “Emerson and the Essay” (pdf) + Draft of writing project due in class. Final version of writing project due by next class (3/4). [no blog due this week]

Recommended: Draft should be at least 2-3 pages. I suggest trying an inductive approach: skipping some of the intro (have a provisional thesis) and dive into the body—exposition and close reading of texts and ideas from the course that will develop your argument about the essay, and lead to a stronger thesis.

Part Two: The Rhetoric of the Essay

Week 6: Dillard: Essay as Expedition

M 3/4

Required: Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk + Philosophy of the Essay Writing Project due no later than class time [no blog due this week]

Recommended: Moore, Crafting the Personal Essay (chapters 17, 18)

[Spring Break 3/11-17]

Week 7: Sontag: Essay as Critical Vision

M 3/18

Required: Sontag, On Photography + Blog

Week 8: The Magazine Essay that leads to a Book

M 3/25

Required: Andrew Delbanco, “The College Idea” [linked]   (+ begin Fast Food Nation). No blog required–do some journal writing–explore ideas for your final project.

Recommended: No regular class. Meet at Andrew Delbanco lecture at 4.30.

Week 9: Schlosser: Essay as Documentary

M 4/1

Required: Scholosser, Fast Food Nation (through p. 166) + Blog

Recommended: Moore, Crafting (chapters 9 and 10)

Week 10: Essay as Documentary, cont.

M 4/8

Required: Fast Food Nation (finish) + Blog


Part Three: Poetics of the Essay

Week 11: Multimedia Essay

M 4/15

Required: John Bresland, “On the Origin of the Video Essay” + watch Video Essay Suite [focus on work by Claudia Rankine] + Audio Essays: Davids Sedaris, from his “Santaland Diaries”; Amy Tan, “Saying Thanks to My Ghosts” (from NPR’s This I Believe); Slide essay: Sandra Steingraber, “The Fracking of Rachel Carson” [linked] + Ander Monson, “Essay as Hack” [linked] + David Shields, Reality Hunger (chapter N through Z) + Blog: experiment with a multimedia essay of your own (or the beginnings of one).

Recommended: Jon Stewart, Daily Show “essay” on gun control +  Hypertext essay: Shelley Jackson, “My Body” [linked] Is a multimedia essay just a traditional essay in a different format, or does it change the essay, make it new or different?

Week 12: The Lyric Essay/Creative Nonfiction

M 4/22

Required: D’Agata, The Lifespan of a Fact + Gutkind, “The 5 Rs of Creative Nonfiction” [linked]+ Final Project proposal (in place of normal blog)


Week 13: Final Project

M 4/29

Required: Final Project Draft due (in place of normal blog) + Moore, Crafting (chapters 22, 23 and Appendix A, B, C)

Final version of final project due: Monday, May 6, by 11.59 pm (via email, and posted to blog).

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