Exploration of Rhetoric + Reflection in Real Life = “Essaying”
“I am so clever that sometimes I don’t understand a single word of what I am saying.” ― Oscar Wilde
Upon retirement in 1571, Michel de Montaigne spent his time in the French countryside reading and writing, where he claimed to be merely “essaying” – which in French means trying – a kind of exploratory, unresolved thinking on the page. Montaigne suggested that in writing about himself, he was also “undertaking a study, the subject of which is man.” Essays traffic in ideas, asking questions, and explaining thinking in order to help the reader become equally enthralled.
This paper is a true essay in the classical sense that the writer should discover, articulate and express personal insights as they intersect with and circle around a specific topic or moment experienced in RWS 305W or your SDSU life. Writing consultant Katherine Bomer in her publication “The Journey is Everything” states “The kind of writing I am arguing for in this book: prose pieces that are personal, lyrical, literary, descriptive, reflective, narrative, expository, philosophical, political, spiritual…all of the above.” Your goal? To craft an essay that has room for everything – essays linger, arouse, question, travel, contradict, reveal and expose the mind.
Successful essays will:
üBe personal. Narrate you’re your own story/experience in first person, cultivate voice
üSet up the text, context and approach in a way that allows you to enter the conversation
üUse at least one class idea/moment as a “touchstone” – a foundation for your inquiry
üExplore the larger contextual elements (moment in history, geography, age, situation…)
üPossess a controlling idea, but also be creative, organic, logical – not formulaic
üBe honest and accurate – identify and name your ideas, places, moments, setting
- Possess a thoughtful, creative conclusion – good essay have striking beginnings and endings
üInclude quoted credible sources (writers, current voices, critics, peers…)
üUse an epigraph to creatively contextualize your contribution to the conversation (see Wilde quote)
Length: MLA format & works cited page minimum of three outside, quality sources
APRIL W 11: Upload your Essaying draft to Turnitin for collateral points workshop by 12 noon.
*PeerMark Workshop is live from 12:01 on 4/11 thru 11:59 pm on Sunday 4/15 – be sure to log back into the link to view your feedback and revise for final submission – reminder memo forthcoming
W 18: Module 4 Essaying due by 12 noon via Turnitin link titled “Essaying Revision 1”,
professor or any demographic you envision would benefit from your content.
Purpose: To grow through the act of writing, to pour yourself onto the page and write an essay you are proud of, to tell a story and play with words in a way that is engaging – to essay.
Topic: The field is wide open! The foundation for your topic could be one dynamic idea from a journal writing experience, one beautiful line from a reading, one random insight from lecture, or the intersection of all of these in a drunken conversation with your roommate. You must follow your own curiosity and thinking while essaying; search your journal entries for inspired moments or use ideas from class content to jumpstart your inquiry. Consider how your observations and experiences in this class connect with your interests/field, challenge your values, or expand your understanding. You might go big (and reflect on your entire college experience) or go small (and analyze your growth in a mere 10 journal entries); the scope is up to you.
Tips: Look back over the Course Learning Outcomes in the syllabus; consider what the university believes to be the benefit of “writing in various settings.” Think about the connections you have made this semester in your life, writing, thinking and figure out what it might mean…