WRITING THE ESSAY, V40.0100
Instructor: Tara K. Parmiter, Ph.D.
Expository Writing Program
411 Lafayette Street, 4
Floor, Rm. 422
An essay is not merely a final product handed in to fulfill an assignment; it
is a record of a process that involves extensive thinking and rethinking, drafting and revising.
Throughout the semester we will explore this process, focusing both on the development of
compelling ideas and the creative expression of those ideas.
we write will be as important
we write. Using the reading of professional essays and the world around us as
inspiration, we will follow a series of
(directed writing exercises and activities) to
lead us towards the completion of three essays. We will focus on the development of ideas, the
use of written texts as evidence, the writing of essays through a process of inquiry and reflection,
and the expression of our thoughts in our own unique voices.
In her essay “Why I Write,” Joan Didion explains that “writing is the act of saying
, of imposing
oneself upon other people, of saying
listen to me
see it my way
change your mind
description is almost violent, but it stresses the importance of seeing writing as part of an
interaction between the writer and the readers. How can your word choice, your structure, your
evidence help convince your readers to “change their minds,” to “see it
description also suggests that writing is fueled by passion, by an intense desire to show other
people what you have figured out about a given subject. If an essay prompt does not immediately
seize your interest, it is up to you as a scholar to find something that excites you in the
assignment, to take advantage of the flexibility of this class and shape your essay into something
that matters to you. Finally, remember that even though writing can be a difficult process, it can
also be illuminating if you approach it with a willingness to experiment. Cynthia Ozick has
described a “genuine essay” as “the movement of a free mind at play,” and I encourage you to