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Three Modern Essayists: Woolf, Orwell, Baldwin

Semester and Year FA 2017
Course Number WRTNG-UG1012
Section 001
Instructor Lisa Goldfarb
Days TR
Time 3:30 PM - 4:45 PM
Units 4
Level U



Virginia Woolf, George Orwell, and James Baldwin were 20th century writers perhaps best known for their fiction – Mrs. Dalloway, Animal Farm, and Go Tell It On the Mountain readily call to mind their respective authors. Yet, each of these figures was also a master of the essay, and in their numerous works they address pressing issues in the tumultuous times in which they lived: the cause of women’s rights and feminism in the case of Woolf; British imperialism, violence, and war in Orwell’s; and the question of American politics and particularly race in the work of Baldwin. In this course, we will explore the modern essay through the works of these three writers to understand both the breadth and depth of their ideas, and, most importantly, the ways they stretched and innovated the form of the essay itself. As this is a writing course, we will focus intently on studying their works as models for students’ own writing. At the same time we will delve into the subjects that they took up in their work, we will use their essays as spurs for student essays. There will be a workshop component to this course so that students share their essays in progress. Readings may include, among many others, essays such as Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own and “Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown”; Orwell’s “Such, Such Were the Joys . . . “ and “Shooting an Elephant,” Baldwin’s “The Discovery of What It Means to Be an American” and “Fifth Avenue, Uptown: a Letter from Harlem.”


All Syllabi

Course Type

Advanced Writing Courses (WRTNG-UG)