The Art of the Essay [Jeff Encke]

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Capacity: seat
5 seats left!
Member Price: $265.50
General Price: $295.00

All Levels. What distinguishes an essay from a memoir or other work of nonfiction? What formal methods do essayists have at their disposal? Whether you’re a seasoned essayist or simply trying to get a basic handle on the craft, this class will give you a thorough introduction to the genre through guided readings of some of its most loved incarnations. Weekly readings will include James Baldwin, Roland Barthes, Joan Didion, Audre Lorde, Friedrich Nietzsche, Oscar Wilde, Virginia Woolf, and many others.


Week 1 – Truth in a Post-Factual Age

On Truth and Lies in an Extra-moral Sense,” Friedrich Nietzsche
The Decay of Lying—An Observation,” Oscar Wilde
On Not Knowing Greek,” Virginia Woolf

Week 2 – Global Tribalism, Social Injustice

We Refugees,” Hannah Arendt
The Anger of the Damned,” Orhan Pamuk
A Modest Proposal,” Jonathan Swift
“Violence, Mourning, Politics,” Judith Butler (in Precarious Life)
optional: Butler interview on Black Lives Matter

Week 3 – Black Lives Speaking

Down at the Cross: Letter from a Region in My Mind,” James Baldwin
Eulogy for Nigger,” David Bradley
The Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism,” Audre Lorde
Exchange with a racist Twitter troll on Martin Luther King Day, January 19, 2015, Ijeoma Oluo

Week 4 – Manifestos: The Rhetoric of Proclamation

The Communist Manifesto,” Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
First Manifesto for Surrealism,” Andre Breton
The Privileges,” Stendhal
A Cyborg Manifesto,” Donna Haraway
The SCUM Manifesto,” Valerie Solanas

Week 5 – Meditations

An Account of My Hut,” Kamo no Chōmei
Walking,” Henry David Thoreau
Holy Water,” Joan Didion
Junkspace,” Rem Koolhaas

Week 6 – Food for Thought

A Dissertation Upon Roast Pig,” Charles Lamb
“How to Boil Water,” MFK Fisher (from How to Cook a Wolf)
“Steak and Chips,” Roland Barthes (from Mythologies)
With or Without a Lake of Melted Cheese,” Bethany Jean Clement

Most classes are offered at a general and member tuition rates based on instruction hours, with Hugo House members receiving a 10% discount on classes fewer than six sessions.

Early bird discounts are available during the first two weeks of registration and apply to both general and member tuition rates.

To help provide financial accessibility to our class offerings, some classes each quarter are offered with a sliding-scale tuition model, allowing students to pay what they can for the class. For these classes, tuition increments starting at $5 and going up to 125% of the standard pricing will be listed on the page.

Hugo House will only process refund requests that are submitted 5 business days or more before the class start date. To request a refund, log in to your account, go to “My Account,” select the “Orders” tab on the left-hand side, click the appropriate order, and request a refund for your specific class. Administrative fees apply. Please see our full refund policy here.

Class sessions may be recorded if a session falls on a holiday, or if a student has access needs. Class recordings are not guaranteed.

We do not tolerate racist, sexist, homophobic, ableist, transphobic or any other oppressive behaviors, regardless of who commits them. Please check out our full community guidelines by clicking here. If an instance of community guidelines are violated and not resolved within the classroom, students may let us know by filling out the student incident report.

Classes may be cancelled if less than the minimum number of students are enrolled within ten days before the class start date. If Hugo House needs to cancel a class for any reason, students can choose between receiving a full credit toward future classes or full refund.

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