In this open education resource (OER) text, we will enter the world of academic writing by exploring how to craft the college essay. We will do this through an interactive discussion of the six main stages of the writing process and the six main elements of the essay format. While no essay can be fully reduced to a simple series of steps or formulas, we will see that the essay does provide a coherent template, an ancient and powerful structure, through which we can engage the world of ideas and communicate our own perceptions and discoveries in meaningful and academically productive ways. We will also examine how emerging technologies, and multimodal instruction and composition, are changing the notion of how to teach and how to do writing. And, most importantly, how our various subjectivities influence not only the ways we approach any topic, but also how we develop voice, tone, and our relationship to authority, tradition, and the ever changing world of ideas.
Remember this is a process. There is an old saying, “writing is rewriting.” The goal is not so much to arrive at a perfect piece of writing as it is to engage the spectacular and complex world around us with increasing clarity of thought and vision. And, hopefully, with a sharpened sense of the importance of careful listening, open inquiry, honest evaluation, and organic synthesis as vital steps on any path towards greater understanding.
An essay is an attempt to know something about the world with more depth of perspective. When we write an essay, we are opening ourselves up to the full spectrum of human (and nonhuman) knowledge and wisdom, while simultaneously reaching for new connections to the truth and its relevance to our lives. It is a sacred, scientific, and self-empowering task. One that we continue to perfect as long as we are alive and curious.
As mentioned above, this text also explores multimodal composition, culturally-sensitive approaches to writing, and themed course content structures to aid in the co-creation of a diverse, empowered, and engaged writing process that encourages students to both learn more about the world through the process of academic inquiry, and share their own perspectives and voices more clearly, confidently, and effectively.
- Please watch this brief video introduction to the text: