Writing and Reading the Essay

Black and white photo of woman writing at a desk

Mrs. Rose Pastor Stokes at desk writing. (Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division [reproduction number, LC-DIG-ggbain-05182 (digital file from original neg.)])

Instructor(s)

MIT Course Number

21W.735

As Taught In

Fall 2005

Level

Undergraduate

Cite This Course

Course Description

This is a course focused on the literary genre of the essay, that wide-ranging, elastic, and currently very popular form that attracts not only nonfiction writers but also fiction writers, poets, scientists, physicians, and others to write in the form, and readers of every stripe to read it. Some say we are living in era in which the essay is enjoying a renaissance; certainly essays, both short and long, are at present easier to get published than are short stories or novels, and essays are featured regularly and prominently in the mainstream press (both magazines and newspapers) and on the New York Times bestseller books list. But the essay has a history, too, a long one, which goes back at least to the sixteenth-century French writer Montaigne, generally considered the progenitor of the form. It will be our task, and I hope our pleasure, to investigate the possibilities of the essay together this semester, both by reading and by writing.

Faery, Rebecca. 21W.735 Writing and Reading the Essay, Fall 2005. (MIT OpenCourseWare: Massachusetts Institute of Technology), http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/writing-and-humanistic-studies/21w-735-writing-and-reading-the-essay-fall-2005 (Accessed). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA


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