Historical Essays: Past as Present

Historical Essays: Past as Present
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Steal, Adopt, Adapt: Where Essays Begin
First, learn what the essay is--and what it is not. See how the practice of writing essays has evolved over centuries yet has remained versatile, and examine the many uses of essays across the ages. Numerous essayists find starting out to be the most daunting part of writing. Professor Cognard-Black…
Lyric Essays: Writing That Sings
From the Greek "lyre," a lyric poem expresses a writer's thoughts and feelings through the intimacy of the first-person narrator, evoking a strong emotional reaction in the audience. Professor Cognard-Black demonstrates the similarities between a lyric poem and a lyric essay and shares a moving example of a lyric piece…
Portrait Essays: People in Words
One of the most important parts of portrait essays is to understand that any depiction of another person--whether a famous stranger or a family member--is also a depiction of the writer. With this lecture, you'll delve into this dynamic between a subject and its writer and examine this power struggle…
Polemical Essays: One-Sided Arguments
Originating in the medieval period, polemical essays are the form for writers who wish to focus on a topic from one perspective only. They are often written to be deliberately polarizing. Refusing to shy away from volatile issues, it takes a strong writer to turn an antagonistic rant into a…
Humor Essays
One of the most surprising insights into humor essays is the revelation that most humor comes from misfortune. This idea has been around for centuries, as even Aristotle noted that laughing at tragedy is cathartic for both the writer and the audience. You'll delve into how self-deprecating humor lends itself…
Nature Essays
Nature essays can easily come across as unrealistic. Since the first nature essays were written in the 19th century, such pieces have often romanticized the natural world--but there is value in not sentimentalizing the great outdoors. Examining works by William Wordsworth, Henry David Thoreau, Deb Marquart, and Michael P. Branch,…
Food Essays: My Grandmother’s Recipe Box
Professor Cognard-Black shows you how a simple recipe is itself a story. As she explains, "It sets a scene, forms a plot, arrives at a climax, and ends with a denouement." Recipes form the basis of edible essays, which start out as instructions and ingredients, but when you mix in…
Sharing Your Essays: From Blog to Book
The modern form of the essay may be seen daily in blogs, although not all blogs are essays--instead, many are no more than personal journals, rants, or fantasies without broader connections and appeals. Professor Cognard-Black provides examples of what components are required for a piece to be a fully formed…
Memory Maps and Your Essay’s Direction
Much like a photographer who can change the angle, lens, lighting, and focus of a scene to evoke emotion from viewers, a writer colors an essay with his or her individual perspective simply by relaying his or her truth of it. This lecture focuses on looking at the world around…
Unabashedly Me: The First-Person Essay
The use of a first-person perspective in essay writing is a powerful tool that invokes intimacy, empathy, and witness. Ethos is more inherent in an "I" essay because the person sharing the story actually experienced the events. Learn how to write concisely to avoid an "I" story becoming simply an…
The Visual Essay: Words + Pictures
Writing a visual essay requires you to detach yourself from how you have been taught to view images your whole life. Rather than passively observing and judging, you must challenge yourself to get into the visual. Repeated and lengthy viewings of visual artifacts are one step. Once you start writing,…
The Memoir Essay
A memoir is often confused with a personal essay, but Professor Cognard-Black shows you the difference, once again using examples from her own students' work. She then provides numerous tips to help you recreate your memories and turn them into fascinating pieces of writing. Learn techniques that allow you to…