In this class, we’ll consider the essay as a valuable tool for interrogating, exploring, celebrating, and ultimately understanding the complicated world in which we live. In her introduction to Best American Essays of the Century, Joyce Carol Oates claims that the essay is “an expression of the human voice… seeking to shift opinion, to influence judgment, to appeal to another in his or her common humanity.” As a community of writers, we’ll study how that “expression of the human voice” is shaped, how it’s controlled, and what gives it its unique strength. We’ll consider essays written by experienced authors, and we’ll write several of our own. Always, we’ll look to the environments and communities around us as we seek to appreciate the essay as a device which enables us to tell the rare stories of our lives, and to articulate and understand the issues that matter most to us.
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