One semester: 3 humanities and sciences credits
The essay is a literary form perfect for grappling with complex ideas in a direct and personal manner. Less rigid than the scholarly treatise, its openness allows a writer tremendous flexibility in considering a chosen topic from numerous angles. In this course, we will examine the uses and particular strengths of the essay by reading and discussing a wide range of examples, as well as writing short essays in a variety of styles. Our reading will range from the invention of the modern essay in the 16th century by Montaigne to opinion pieces in current magazines. Writing assignments will explore uses of the essay for diverse purposes, including satire, humor, advocacy, art criticism and the investigation of contemporary issues. The goal throughout will be to help students identify different means of writing available to them as they begin to conceive of and develop the written component of their thesis projects.