The Art of Writing a Personal Essay with Pragya Agarwal
Date: October 5, 2023
Time: 6.00pm - 8.00pm
Duration: 6 weeks
Level: Beginner | Emerging |
Cost: €165 (€150 Members)
This course will take place on Thursdays (six sessions in total).
Please note that this course will not take place on October 26 and will end on November 16.
Derived from the French essai = attempt, the personal essay is an attempt to document a life, or an aspect of your life. It is a daring form of writing with an immeasurable amount of freedom to digress and acknowledge uncertainty, but also deduce and have conversations with yourself and the reader. In this course, you will learn about the different styles and forms of essays: braided, lyrical, fragmented, hermit crab, etc. while also learning about its origins in origins in Francis Bacon and Michel de Montaigne, to its role in contemporary literature with Joan Didion, James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, Sinead Gleeson, Alexander Chee or Claudia Rankine. In this practice course, you will develop your own essays with various weekly prompts and will have an opportunity to polish an essay of up to 3000 words and share and get feedback from the group.
Essays offer us an opportunity to be experimental in our writing, to observe, question, discover in a creative way. In this very practical course supplemented with close-reading and writing prompts, we will look at various different styles, techniques and forms of essays every week.
You will learn how to apply these techniques to your own writing.
You will also learn how to draw boundaries with yourself and with your readers while writing about real-life.
You will learn how to reenergise and reinvigorate your own writing by being experimental and using research, reflection and storytelling to tell your own truth in imaginative new ways.
You will also learn how to read more closely to improve your own writing.
You will learn how to polish your essays and submit to literary magazines.
At the end of the course, you should have a series of essay ideas to develop and refine, as well as a polished essay of about 3000 words. You will also come away with a list of reading
recommendations to build your repertoire. And you will have recommendations of literary magazines to submit to, if you so wish, and ideas on how to start building an essay collection. You will hopefully feel re-energised and empowered to start writing from your own life.
Dr Pragya Agarwal is the author of (M)otherhood: On the choices of being a woman in addition to three other widely acclaimed nonfiction books for adults on racism, gender bias and reproductive rights, and a picture book for raising non-racist children. Her latest book, Hysterical: Exploding the myth of gendered emotions was one of The Telegraph’s best big ideas books of 2022, as well as Waterstones and the i newspaper’s best non-fiction of 2022. Pragya is a professor of social inequities, behavioural and data scientist, and founder of a research think-tank investigating gender inequities. Her writing has also appeared in Florida Review, Hinterland, Aeon, Willowherb Review and Literary Hub, as well as in Scientific American, New Scientist, Guardian, and others.
Probably the best writing class I've taken so far.
Pragya taught us so much about the various forms of essays which resulted in open and free pieces of work from the participants.