This seminar brings together students and faculty for an informal seminar on the development of the essay as a literary and social form. In the fall, the focus will be on the history and practice of essay-writing from the eighteenth through the middle of the twentieth century; in the spring, we'll turn to contemporary forms of the essay, including the memoir or personal essay, the literary essay, and the long-form journalistic essay. Our first guest speaker will be Phillip Lopate. Other guest speakers might include James Wood and Joan Didion, who will be invited to present their own work or that of a leading essayist, past or present. The seminar will meet no more than three times each semester.