Jun 18, 2024  
2023-2024 Catalog 
2023-2024 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

ENG 201 - Intro to the Essay

Ingram, Jung

Are you interested in changing minds with your words? Are you interested in changing your own mind with your own words? In this course, we will study the art of essay with a focus on the technique of persuasion. The term essay will be broadly defined to include works from many different genres, because “essaying” at its core tracks how your mind transforms as it collides against and combines with a new idea, memory, or emotion.

Somewhat ominously, we will specifically examine the techniques of making a persuasive argument that can lead people to do things that go against their best interests. The great danger of such persuasion is that often its emotional appeals can blind us to the facts of the argument and lead us down to darker paths of our humanity. When we are trying to win a war of words, or a war of ideas, do we stay honest? Or do we lie, cheat, and steal to gain one more person on our side? What is involved in winning the argument for the sake of winning? If so, then what is the cost we pay for such extreme measures? And how are such persuasive techniques used in writing essays? Knowing these dark arts will help us protect ourselves from them. One way of thinking about this course is to think of it as a Defense Against the Dark Arts. 

Our readings and discussions will range from classics to contemporary culture. The course will be in part a tour through literary history, we will learn analyze classic essays, and we will learn to write essays of our own through creative writing workshops. George Orwell’s famous quote will be one of our guiding lights throughout the semester: “Political language…is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”


Satifies the Literary Studies, Creative Writing, and Rhetoric requirement.