This course is an introduction to the reading and writing of “the lyric essay,” a variety of non-fiction prose that refuses to obey the truth-telling, reality-capturing and argumentative priorities often associated with the essay. We will look at and produce essayistic writing that exists at the borders and intersections of traditionally separate forms, including poetry, fiction and journalism, and that integrates obsession, fragmentation, meditation, idiosyncrasy and hallucination into the creation of new prose shapes.
Sample reading list:
Hilton Als, The Women
James Baldwin, Notes of a Native Son
Joe Brainerd, I Remember
Anne Carson, Plainwater
Joan Didion, The White Album
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm
The course will combine discussions of assigned readings with workshopping of student writing. We will investigate and question the somewhat disputed sub-genre of the lyric essay itself as we take a close look at writing from a range of historical periods. Students will begin by writing letters of critique in response to the published work to prepare for the weekly letters they will write to their peers as part of the workshop process.