Sunday, August 24, 2008

Course Objective

“Writing the Essay” is to serve as a foundation course for college writing. With focus on the development of both vocabulary and argument in writing, the course aims to provide upperclassmen with an adequate basis for thinking more critically and analytically—a skill set that will be of crucial importance in the collegiate environment. After all, good writers make good thinkers.

The course will be rooted in the philosophies of Southern American writers, Eudora Welty and Flannery O’Connor, whose One Writer’s Beginnings and Mystery and Manners, respectively, discuss the nature of writing (particularly that of fiction writing) as revelatory—of revealing to us things, in their essence, that too often go unnoticed in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. These two women have much to offer us in the way of reading deeply into the text and becoming deep thinkers—as writers—ourselves.

Thus, their works will provide the foundational philosophy for this course, which, practically speaking, will focus on developing your skills as writers of literary criticism and of critical research. We will hone in on a lot of short fiction and essays—poetry, short story, and autobiography—to flex our own creative and critical muscles.

There will be a major writing assignment due before the end of the semester so stay tuned and pay close attention—you never know what lay ahead in those unforeseen shadows of the written word and your own mind.

Course Philosophy

Whatever we write—be it the formal paper for a class, the college application essay, the piece of poetry, or the work of fiction—is an autobiography, reflecting some piece of our individual histories, our prejudices, and the cultures in which we have grown up. Whether you are conscious of it or not, your choice of language and the subject matter you choose to address in a piece of writing gives you and your audience a glimpse into your deeper self—that bit of being that no one gets a chance to see on a regular basis. That is the beauty of writing in whatever form; it gives us the chance to reflect and, in reflecting, to respond to those deeper insights that churn inside of our mind and heart.

This course is thus undergirded by a philosophy which espouses the written word as a creative means to navigate previously unforeseen territory in our individual consciousness. In this way, writing becomes a vehicle for self-expression—not so much a chore as an opportunity to travel, to re-create, and to simply “be.”

That said, I challenge you to take this course as a way to access those deeper parts of self, to explore the world around you through the written word, and to develop a language for yourself that bespeaks a hidden reality behind that persona—i.e. that “front”—we all put up on a daily basis, either because we are too caught up in the “busy-ness” of life or because our ego tells us there is no use for the reflective space which writing provides.

But that’s just it! It is through writing that histories are written and that the “business” of the world is both communicated and carried out.

So, let your histories speak through this course and beyond the bounds of this classroom. Let the world hear your voice.