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The Essay
COL 112
Spring 2009 not offered
Crosslisting: ENGL 114

This course will explore the essay, a fascinating but widely neglected genre. Fiction and nonfiction, literature and science, the personal and the universal, autobiography and journalism, all meet in the essay. As we trace the history of this "fourth genre," we will range broadly across time and space, while keeping a more or less chronological focus. Beginning with classical precursors to the essay (Seneca, Plutarch), we will then turn our attention to Montaigne, the "father of the essay" (and still, perhaps, its finest practitioner), considering the manner in which he himself defines the form he names. We will then trace the rise of the English essay, reading essays by Addison and Steele, Samuel Johnson, Charles Lamb, William Hazlitt, Max Beerbohm, Matthew Arnold, Leslie Stephen, G.K. Chesterton, George Orwell, Virginia Woolf, and others. Finally, we will turn to 20th century and contemporary essays, including Continental and American figures (Walter Benjamin, Roland Barthese, H.L. Mencken, Joan Didion, Richard Rodriguez). Some questions we will ask ourselves as we proceed: What are the boundaries of the essay form? What differentiates it as a genre? What is its relationship to fiction? To the novel? What is its value in literary terms?

Essential Capabilities: None
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: HA COL
Course Format: SeminarGrading Mode: Graded
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: None

Last Updated on AUG-13-2022
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