"Language is like a cracked kettle on which we beat out tunes for bears to dance to, when all the while we long to move the stars to pity," said Gustave Flaubert in his relentless quest for "le mot juste." In this course, students will learn to write the academic essay while reading and analyzing essays, interviews, videos, poetry, short stories, and a novel or two about writers and writing. Why do writers write? Where do they get their inspiration? Their preparation? Where do they find their models and mentors? What are their various methods? Why do writers not write? What are the responsibilities of the writer? Can writing be dangerous? Can success have its perils? Some possible answers (and further questions) come from George Orwell, Joan Didion, Toni Morrison, Audre Lorde, Rainer Maria Rilke, Seamus Heaney, Zadie Smith, David Foster Wallace, George Saunders, Liyun Li, Julian Barnes, Grace Paley, Etgar Keret, and Alice Munro. We may attend a reading, and a writer or editor will be our guest.