The personal essay is the most intimate and liberating of all writing genres. Essayists establish a kind of friendship with the reader – an imaginary one, of course — which licenses us to explore intuitions we might not otherwise feel free to express. We dare to be candid, to hunt down hunches, to follow the course of internal debates on the page.
In this workshop we’ll do a lot of reading and discussion to get a sense for the parameters of the form, and to find courage and inspiration in the example of other essayists. We’ll also do in-class exercises to generate beginnings and/or eliminate false starts. Students will sign up to present their essays-in-progress to the workshop. The instructor and other class members will read them carefully (which means at least twice) and offer tactful reaction and detailed suggestions.