We will begin by familiarizing ourselves with canonical examples (ranging from the 18th century to the end of the 20th century) of the two largest categories of the heterogeneous essay genre: the personal, meditative, expressive essay on the one hand and the public, satirical, argumentative-critical, journalistic essay forms on the other. We will then investigate - by both reading and writing - how essayistic prose has been reshaped, even transformed, in the digital era. Both the enduring aspects of the essay and those that change from print to pixel will be our objects of investigation. One month into the semester, students will begin research on the web, identifying and sharing both shorter online posts and long-form descriptive, analytical and polemical writings they argue for as significant. Concurrently, they will begin to compose original work in the emergent genres and forms of digital prose, in both short postings and longer pieces ranging from the descriptive to the intellectual and polemical, such as reviews and political and cultural critiques. The course will explore how form and content alter together, as cultures think about, criticize, theorize, and reshape themselves in new media. We will analyze the new norms and conventions of reading and writing that emerge in this process to develop an understanding of how we skim, read, absorb and experience the digital writing that now constitutes much of the public sphere.