Topic outline

  • General

    writing seminar

    The Art of the Essay
    Fall 2009
    M-Th 1:30 - 2:50, D33E


    Woman WritingVirginia Woolf describes the essay as a form that “must lap us about and draw its curtain across the world.” But what are, she asks, “can the essayist use in these short length of prose to sting us awake and fix us in a trance which is not sleep but rather an intensification of life—a basking, with every faculty alert, in the sun of pleasure?” Her answer is a simple one: “He [she] must know—that is the first essential—how to write.” In this writing seminar, we will be reading a collection of essays from the personal essay to nature writing, literary journalism and science writing. And, of course, . . .we will write. During this semester, we will explore writing as an activity that we learn by doing, with some coaching. For this reason, our class time will be spent generally doing, not listening to lectures about writing. The way we will work toward our goal is through lots of practice in writing, critiquing, and rewriting. A long distance runner improves her or his times by running faster, more frequently, and through good coaching. A painter spends long hours in the studio, reworking line and color—getting it just right. This class will be your writing studio. You will work on your craft, rewriting, revising, rethinking, polishing; and I will be your coach, your advisor, and your supporter, but not the only coach. All of your writing will be read by other students, and each of you will become a coach. We will take seriously the opening line of Patricia Hampl’s book, I Could Tell You Stories: “A writer is, first and last, a reader.”
  • Topic 1

    Syllabus and Calendar