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Writing Program

325: The Art of the Essay

Goals and Guidelines for English 325: The Art of the Essay

This writing course builds on the skills of English 124 and 125 (and potentially English 225), serving as a more advanced writing course and examination of imaginative, informative essay writing, including essays involving research.  The course thus offers a helpful precursor for upper-level English courses (such as English 398) but also serves non-concentrators with advanced writing skills for their future classes in various disciplines and writing pursuits.  The course title “The Art of the Essay,” is designed to suggest attention to deliberate rhetorical choices in writing, and the process, the concerns, and the craft that inform constructing and refining effective essays.  Furthermore, this title suggests that the course hones skills of imaginative, informative essays in ways that students can apply in multiple forms of writing.  The course description (see below) is designed to indicate clearly that the course is an upper-level writing course that focuses on processes and methods of the art of writing essays, including foundational skills in incorporating research into writing. 

What follows are the Writing Program's description, goals, and guidelines for the course, created to help instructors design the syllabus for their section. Instructors are welcome to adapt the course description and/or learning goals for their own syllabi. .

Generic Course Description

All sections of English 325 focus on examining and practicing artistic and research-informed essay writing.  The term essay here refers to shorter works of composition employing stylistic devices from multiple genres of writing in order to develop a point of view aesthetically and intellectually.  The course builds on and refines skills from introductory writing courses English 124, 125, and potentially 225, provides an advanced course particularly interested in the craft of the essay, as well as provides a basic introduction to finding and effectively incorporating research into student writing, for use in a range of future academic contexts. 

Student Learning Goals

  • To hone mechanics, attention to language and audience, style, and craft in students’ essay writing. 
  • To develop a critical understanding of some key practices and examples of essay writing and the multiple kinds of work that essays do, such as cultural commentary, social critique, and memoir.
  • To develop an awareness of different rhetorical approaches and research incorporation in essay writing and to practice these approaches.
  • To participate in sustained, thoughtful, artful, researched, and workshopped essay writing that displays clarity of purpose, awareness of audience, and the recognition/use of writing as a revision-reliant process.   
  • To develop a working set of skills and resources for essays incorporating and informed by research, including the distinction between primary and secondary sources, and an understanding of how to begin, carry out, and complete a writing assignment incorporating research.
  • To develop an awareness of the rigors and potential pleasures entailed in reading, discussing, and crafting written essays.


Registered & Waitlisted Students

Please remember that you must attend BOTH the first and second class meetings in order to secure your position on the class roster or the waitlist. Failure to attend either meeting can result in your being dropped from the course or the waitlist.


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