The Art of the Essay: from Walter Benjamin to Claudia Rankine

Course Dates: 07/02/22 - 14/03/22
Time: 18:00 - 19:30
Location: Online
We will go on a journey to investigate the art and form of the essay through collectively reading a variety of essayists from the early 20th century to the present day. We will explore the essay’s hazy boundaries between diary, literary criticism, nature writing, elegy, aphorism, political tract, and mystical/religious experiences through key essayists including Walter Benjamin, Virginia Woolf, Clarice Lispector, Audre Lorde, Etel Adnan, James Baldwin, David Rattray, and Claudia Rankine.
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
Book your place
In stock
Full fee £89.00 Senior fee £89.00 Concession £54.00

Course Code: HLT199

Mon, eve, 07 Feb - 14 Mar '22

Duration: 6 sessions (over 6 weeks)

Or call to enrol:020 7831 7831

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Center for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.

What is the course about?

This online literature course will consider the essay as a shape shifting and hybrid form dictated by the inner journey and unique thought process of the writer/essayist. Over the course of our sessions we will collectively explore the following questions: What is a ‘lyric essay’ or a ‘personal essay’? What are the boundaries between poetry, fiction, autobiography and the essay form? Beginning with an investigation of the history and definition of the essay genre, we will closely read and discuss key essays, and consider the extent to which the essay breaks boundaries between form and content, the personal and political.

This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
- Earphones/headphones/speakers.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.

What will we cover?

We will cover resonant topics such as gender, sexuality, political protest, race and religious experience, exploring how the essay accommodates these themes through a variety of methods, forms and genres such as nature writing, autobiography, memoir, philosophical meditation, cultural criticism, sermon, polemic and aphorism. Over the course of these sessions, we will focus on overlooked contributions to the essay genre by key overlooked essayists.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

• Analyse key approaches to the essay genre
• Be familiar with key essayists, some of whom fall through the cracks of the literary canon.
• Lay claim to a knowledge of a great literary genre.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

For those who enjoy reading and discussing literature and are interested in sharing ideas and listening to the views of others.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

Short lecture, whole group and small group work, reading in class and discussion.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

The tutor will provide digital handouts and/or internet links to set readings.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

This tutor will be teaching 'The Art of the Essay: Film and Literary Crossovers' (HLT169) from 20 June to 25 July. Please see the website for the course outline.
Please look for other Literature courses on our website at, culture & writing/courses under Literature.

Dalia Neis

Dalia Neis is a writer, filmmaker, musician and the author of Zephyrian Spools (An Essay, A Wind) (Knives, Forks, Spoons 2020), and Hercules Road (MA Bibliotheque, 2020). Dalia is also lyricist for the poetry/musical project FITH and co-founder of Wanda, an impromptu radio show and imprint that traverses the literary, sonic, and cinematic spheres.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.