May 19, 2024  
2013-2014 Academic Catalog 
2013-2014 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

ENG 210-01 - Studies in Genre (Spring)

4 credits
The Essay: Classic to Contemporary. This course considers the essay, the literary genre Montaigne made famous and modern in 1580 when he first used the term (essai: “attempt” or “trial) for his self-reflective, digressive, chatty, and informal form of writing; and which Samuel Johnson defined as “a loose sally of the mind; an irregular, undigested piece.” Ranging across historical periods, aesthetic styles, and thematic concerns, this course attempts to put forward and interpret a tradition of the essay as a genre, while also raising critical and theoretical questions about literary genre in general. Along the way, we will explore subcategories of the essay, such as the personal essay, the political essay, the travel essay, and the lyric essay; we will stop to consider how the essay both shapes and is shaped by ideas of personhood, the relation between the essayist and society, and the makings of literary style; and we will also essay our own curiosities and questions. Essayists will include Montaigne, Addison & Steele, Johnson, Hazlitt, Emerson, Thoreau, William James, Virginia Woolf, George Orwell, Walter Benjamin, Susan Sontag, James Baldwin, Rachel Carson, Joan Didion, Annie Dillard, David Foster Wallace, Rebecca Solnit, Marilynne Robinson, Geoff Dyer, Eula Bliss, and John Jeremiah Sullivan. Writing assignments will be comprised of weekly reading responses and a final portfolio of revised, original essays.

Prerequisite: ENG 120  or ENG 121  for majors; or for non-majors, ENG 120  or ENG 121  or any course in the study of literature in another language department.
Instructor: Phan